MUFREESBORO, Tenn. — Maggie Crumbliss and Ashton Jenne found themselves in a battle Wednesday in the Division II-AA state tennis championship — with each other.
And this time, the elder won.
With the Lady Red Raiders leading 3-1 the two dueled to see who was the last player off in their state championship match against rival GPS. Crumbliss beat her opponent Hannah Morrow in the clinching victory, while Jenne was one point away from the win when Crumbliss's match ended.
The 4-1 victory at Old Fort State Park is the 40th consecutive victory for the Lady Red Raiders (14-0), who claimed their third consecutive title. On top of that, they return their entire team heading into next season.
"Every time we win, it's gets harder and harder," Baylor coach Dustin Kane said. "Every time we play GPS, it's so tough because they never give up, but we don't give up, either. All of our girls played great and battled to the end of their matches."
There was no bigger win than Baylor's at No. 3 doubles, as Drew Hawkins and Christine Palisoc rallied from down 7-5 with four match points to win and give the team the doubles point. From there, Crumbliss, Hawkins and Samantha Caswell won singles matches to clinch the title.
"I realized how close we both were," Crumbliss said of her's and Jenne's matches. "This was probably the most rewarding win we had because we lost a player at the beginning of the year and had to work harder in some matches."
Jenne, one of two eighth-graders in the lineup along with Hawkins said she didn't even expect to be a part of the team this year.
"Winning is the most exciting thing for me, because I didn't expect to be a part of this," Jenne said. "I'm so blessed to be here."
The Bruisers (12-4) received wins from Michelle Fleenor at No. 2 singles, and Morrow and Mary Claire Spann at No. 2 doubles. They will lose five seniors - Morrow, Spann, Emma McCallie, Brighton Goodhue and Maggie McBrayer. Head coach Sue Bartlett felt good about her team's performance on Wednesday.
"Every position played better today," she said. "You obviously want to end the season on a positive note, and the girls left it all out there and gave it all they had. I'm really proud of them.
"You want the fairy-tale ending for the seniors. Most of them weren't on the last team that won [in 2010], but Baylor played really well. I have no complaints."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.