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State title is sixth straight for Baylor girls' tennis

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — They came from different areas but shared a common goal.

And Wednesday afternoon at the Adams Tennis Complex, members of the Baylor School girls' tennis team accomplished what they set out to do.

The Lady Red Raiders dominated Hutchison in the Division II-AA title match, defeating the Sting 4-0 for the program's sixth consecutive state championship. That's tied for the second-best streak of all time with Ravenwood, which won six straight from 2010 to 2015, and one behind Webb School of Knoxville's current streak of seven in Division II-A.

Baylor finished this season 15-0 overall and was 97-11 in individual matches. The Lady Red Raiders have an overall record of 93-9 since the start of the 2010 season, with four Decoturf national championships to go with their state titles in that stretch.

"Every year we start fresh with the goal of winning state," Baylor coach Dustin Kane said. "This year we felt going in we were sort of the heavy favorite, and that provided its own type of pressure. I think we felt that pressure. Doubles got tight, but we were able to pull it out, then able to regroup, refocus and come out strong in singles."

Drew Hawkins and Lauren Carelli, and Karolina Hakala and Lilly Mooney earned doubles wins to give Baylor the early 1-0 lead. Hakala, Presley Thomas and Ashton Jenne followed with straight-sets victories in singles, with Thomas's 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 3 clinching the title.

Hakala came to the team from Finland. Thomas is from Ringgold, Ga., while both Jenne and Mooney are from the Cleveland, Tenn., area. They all landed at Baylor with the goal of winning a state championship, and whether it's the first one (as for Hakala) or the fourth (as for Jenne), it's special.

"We've worked hard, so we feel like that has paid off," Thomas said. "All year we've worked as a team, running and training as a team. We've been cheering each other on, and we can enjoy the final result because we all did it together.

"It feels better than doing it by yourself, because you know you had help. You had a lot of people with you."

Jenne had shoulder surgery in December, and her status was unknown entering the season. She was back by the first match, though, and as one of two juniors on the roster, she's already looking forward to what it will take for the Lady Raiders to win a seventh straight title in 2017.

"We knew we were favored (today), but we couldn't have that mindset," she said. "We can't go into next season with the mindset that anything is going to be given to us."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.

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