The Baylor girls' tennis team repeated as champion of the even stronger Decoturf National Championships this past weekend in Louisville, Ky. GPS was the runner-up for the second straight season, and Baylor's Samantha Caswell was named most valuable player of the rain-plagued event.
Harper Caswell was named to the all-tournament singles team for the Lady Red Raiders (3-0), while her sister and McCall Morgan made the tournament doubles team. Michelle Fleenor and Emma McCallie were honored in both singles and doubles for GPS, which lost 5-2 to its Chattanooga rival in the final.
"I think this year's team is more mentally tough than we were last year," Baylor coach Dustin Kane said. "We've very talented, but this team is more composed and able to handle adversity a lot better.
"The weather was difficult for us and it was hard to be on call all day and not know when to get your warm-up in when you're totally prepared. In years past, it would have rattled us, but I thought we handled it pretty well."
Baylor has no seniors, but its top four players -- also including Maggie Crumbliss -- are sophomores in their third year of varsity experience.
After an easy first-round win, GPS (3-1) had to play three matches Saturday, as its quarterfinal match with Notre Dame from Arizona was postponed Friday night. The Bruisers won 5-0 and then earned an emotional victory over top-seeded Blessed Trinity, which had beat them in the Buckhead Rotary last season.
Amidst all the craziness, the Bruisers watched "The Hunger Games" together, and coach Sue Bartlett called it a "great trip."
"On paper, we weren't supposed to beat Blessed Trinity, but we had some girls step up and really play well," she said. "It was hard to have to turn around and play Baylor, but it was awesome to have two Chattanooga teams in the final of a national event. It says a lot about tennis in our area."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 757-6311.