MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Girls Preparatory School tennis team fought, rallied and ultimately prevailed. The Baylor girls persevered.
Both won their Division II-AA state semifinal matches Tuesday at the Old Fort courts by identical 4-0 scores, and they will meet this morning at 10 EDT for the state championship for the fifth consecutive season. The GPS Bruisers defeated Hutchison, while the Lady Red Raiders beat Harpeth Hall.
GPS won the 2010 championship over Baylor, which has won the last three state titles.
The Notre Dame girls defeated Union City 4-0 and will face Christian Academy of Knoxville in the A/AA championship match at 10 a.m. The Lady Irish had singles wins by Sarah Joyce, Sarah Faith Ingell, Mary Margaret Haywood and Katie Lamsey in improving to 16-1 for the season.
The Bruisers (11-4) had a big come-from-behind win by Analisa Stratienko and Virginia Hammond at No. 3 doubles. They rallied from down 1-7, love-30 in the pro set to 8 to win 9-7 and clinch the school doubles point, then earned singles wins by Hammond, Michelle Fleenor and Danielle Simms.
Fleenor and Jennie McBrayer had the other doubles win for GPS.
"I'm really proud of the girls and how they came back and pulled through," GPS coach Sue Bartlett said. "We knew it was going to be a good match today. We had two three-set matches that were close last time we played Baylor, but we know they're the ones to beat.
"We're just going to go out there, do our thing and enjoy it."
The Lady Red Raiders (14-1) had some pre-match sickness, which caused them to start off a little slowly in doubles matches. Still, the combinations of Samantha Caswell with McCall Morgan and Harper Caswell with Grace Petty won to claim the doubles point, and singles wins from Morgan, Maggie Crumbliss and Drew Hawkins clinched the team victory.
"[The illness] was something that we've been prepared for but hoped wouldn't happen," Baylor coach Dustin Kane said. "We had some healthy for singles and went out and played great. We did what we needed to do to keep moving on."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.