Tennis: Jamestown girls shut out Hidden Valley, earn berth in first Group AA final since 2008

That rainy-day feeling is pretty nice for the Jamestown High girls tennis team.

The Eagles advanced to the state Group AA team championship match for the first time since 2008, sweeping Hidden Valley of Roanoke 5-0 Friday in Blacksburg.

Shuttling indoors to outdoors and back with aplomb, Jamestown shut out a Region IV title team that won the 2010 and '11 championships and that features a No. 1 player, Ceyda Durmaz, who won the state singles title the previous afternoon.

Jamestown advanced to Saturday's 9 a.m. final, also at Virginia Tech, against Western Albemarle. The Eagles had lost in a semifinal the previous four seasons.

"Out of the five years that I've been coming up here with this group of girls and another group of girls, to say we're playing Saturday is a fantastic feeling," Eagles coach Karen Johnson said. "They really want this."

Given the effects of Tropical Storm Andrea, which prompted Friday's postponement of every Virginia High School League contest that wasn't tennis, the Eagles believed they would play indoors against Hidden Valley.

But, Johnson said, the outdoor courts were dry enough to start the noon match outside. For a little while.

"About 10 minutes after we started, it rained," she said. "Everybody had only played about two games, and there was about an hour delay that gave the girls plenty of time.

"We had pre-ordered (submarine sandwiches) ... and the girls were able to able to eat like a quarter or a half of a sub. A couple of card games broke out. The refueling and the relaxing time really helped us. It was 2 o'clock before we got back on the court."

After the puddles went away, the Eagles heated up. Straight-sets victories by No. 2 Anna Walter, No. 3 Elizabeth Wallace, No. 5 Sarah Reso and No. 6 Katie Hunt put them up 4-0 and on the verge of advancing.

No. 4 Kathy Sharp, who had led by a set and 4-1, needed to survive a comeback by the Titans' Laura Sowder, who leveled the second set at 5. Sharp nudged ahead 6-5 before more rain doused the courts, causing play to be suspended a second time.

Johnson said Sharp, after walking to the indoor center, "was able to gather herself and was able to play one game and clinch it for us."

At No. 1, where the match was stopped upon the Eagles' fifth point, senior Leah Walter trailed 6-1, 4-4 against Durmaz. That was the best performance in three matches by any opponent against Durmaz, a senior who plans to walk on to William and Mary's team in August.

Durmaz didn't play high school tennis as a sophomore and junior, opting instead to work on her game with private coaches. She lost only three games in four sets in Thursday's singles tournament, including a 6-0, 6-2 triumph against Western Albemarle left-hander Emily Kochard — the girl who ousted Leah Walter 6-0, 6-1 in a semifinal.

"Leah was holding her own and playing excellent against the state champion," Johnson said. "We knew they had a strong No. 1. I didn't do as much research.

"At one point, I just told the girls the team we play is going to be good. Everybody's been writing you off, but now's your time to be good. We went out there and just played our game."

To longtime area tennis-watchers, this has been a flashback season for Jamestown, which won five team crowns in a six-year span from 2001-06 and was the runner-up in '03 and '08, all with Peter Schweitzer coaching. But for the current Eagles and Johnson, this is new territory.

It's even more new for Western Albemarle, which never had been to the girls final, though the Warriors' boys won four of six finals from 2007-12. On paper, Western could be considered Saturday's favorite, since it won Friday over E.C. Glass, a team that defeated Jamestown 5-4 in Lynchburg in the regular season.

"We won't go away without a fight," Johnson said.

Doubles victory for Walter sisters

The day's capper for Jamestown was an individual doubles semifinal, which followed team play.

Leah and Anna Walter posted a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory in a matchup of regional champions against E.C. Glass' Paige Riley and Sydney Moon, marking the sisters' second win of the season over the Hilltoppers' best tandem.

After the team final, the Walters will play for the doubles crown against the defending champs, Jessie Nolan and Kathryn Bock of Handley. They began a match against each other Tuesday at Jamestown, getting to 4-all in the first set before the Eagles clinched the team triumph.


Singles: Ceyda Durmaz (HV) led Leah Walter 6-1, 4-4; Anna Walter d. Emma Baker 6-0, 6-1; Elizabeth Wallace d. Abby Dixon 6-1, 6-2; Kathy Sharp d. Laura Sowder 6-0, 7-5; Sarah Reso d. Becky Brisley 6-3, 6-3; Katie Hunt d. Grace Whiteside 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles: Canceled.

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