published Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Red Raiders repeat: Baylor girls top GPS for state tennis title

Girls Preparatory School's Michelle Fleenor makes a return in her match with Baylor's Samantha Caswell during Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
Girls Preparatory School's Michelle Fleenor makes a return in her match with Baylor's Samantha Caswell during Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
  • photo
    Baylor's Samantha Caswell gets ready to send the ball back to GPS's Michelle Fleenor during Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
    enlarge photo

Division II-AA girls' state championship

BAYLOR 4, GIRLS PREPARATORY SCHOOL 1

Singles: Samantha Caswell (B) def. Michelle Fleenor, 6-3, 6-2; Maggie Crumbliss (B) def. Hannah Morrow, 6-3, 6-2; Mary Claire Spann (GPS) def. McCall Morgan, 6-2, 6-1; Mary Walker Mixon (B) def. Jennie McBrayer, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Doubles: S. Caswell/Morgan (B) def. Morrow/Emma McCallie, 8-3; Mixon/Harper Caswell (B) def. Spann/Brighton Goodhue, 8-3.

Records: Baylor 13-0; GPS 13-4.

State Championships May 21-25

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- All the long hours of "4-ball" sprints paid championship-type dividends for the Baylor girls' tennis team -- with another championship.

The Lady Red Raiders fought their way to their second consecutive Division II-AA state title. The title is the sixth in the program's history, which ties them for fourth-most all-time, three behind the team they beat 4-1 in Wednesday's final, Girls Preparatory School.

The win was the fourth of the season for Baylor over its Chattanooga rival, which included a victory in the finals of the prestigious Decoturf National Championships in Louisville, Ky.

"We might be the second-best team in the nation, but we are the second-best team in our own city," GPS coach Sue Bartlett joked.

The champions put a solid emphasis on their conditioning in the preseason, which included miles and miles of conditioning and sprints. Those sprints included the dreaded "4-ball" drill in which the players had to sprint and retrieve four balls positioned on the court and sprint back to the line.

"That was the hardest drill that we did, by far," sophomore Maggie Crumbliss said. "The conditioning that we did was hard, but we knew we had to do it to be ready for the heat in Murfreesboro, and we had to listen because if we didn't, we wouldn't benefit."

Baylor (13-0) got wins from Crumbliss, Samantha Caswell and Mary Walker Mixon in singles and from Caswell with McCall Morgan and Mixon with Harper Caswell in doubles.

Mixon praised Park Lockrow, one of the coaches, stating that the team "wouldn't be here without him."

Mary Claire Spann claimed the victory for GPS (13-3).

"There were some positions where we thought we had a chance, but they had to go our way," Bartlett said. "I thought the girls left it all out on the court."

Baylor coach Dustin Kane said GPS is a major reason for the Lady Raiders' strenuous conditioning.

"If there wasn't a GPS, there wouldn't be a need for us to push to be great," he said. "It's been an asset to have a real talented team that wants to beat us.

"We made a team decision to be the most fit team around, and that we weren't going to lose a match because of our fitness. We knew if we built the foundation of a real tough fitness program that we would be able to stick to the game plan if things weren't going well.

"We weren't going to lose a match because of our fitness. We're lucky to have so many talented players; our desire is to take good players and make them great."

Neither team has a senior on the roster, so both should duke it out for not only state but national pride for at least two more seasons.

"When you have somebody else to push you, it's going to make you better," Bartlett said. "The teams' depth has added to the rivalry; I think we've both had teams in which it was kind of lopsided in one direction, but when you have two programs that are pretty good top to bottom, it adds to the rivalry because both teams feel they have a chance to win."

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