The most challenging match of Taylor Neudecker's undefeated season was her last.
Neudecker, a junior from North Carroll, captured the state girls singles title Saturday with a grueling 6-4, 7-6 (6-5) win against Bethesda-Chevy Chase's Taylor Newman at the University of Maryland.
"Most likely … that was my hardest match," Neudecker said.
The pair was tied 5-5 in the tiebreaker when Newman hit a shot just wide, eliciting a roar from Neudecker's cheering section and tears from Newman.
"It was amazing," Neudecker said. "Such a great feeling."
The match was a back-and-forth affair, particularly in the second set. Neither Neudecker nor Newman could finagle more than a two-game lead.
"I was nervous," Neudecker said. "There [were] a couple of times she tied me and I was just like, 'shoot,' but it ended well."
The top-seeded Neudecker bulldozed her way to the finals, defeating opponents by a total score of 36-9 before the marathon finale.
She breezed past Shannon Ramsey of Calvert County's Northern High in the morning's semifinal match, 6-3, 6-1.
With the win, Neudecker improved her record on the year to 27-0.
Neudecker didn't seem too fazed by the accomplishment.
"I wasn't expecting anything coming in to the season," Neudecker said. "What happened happened. I'm happy to be in this position."
Neudecker will have another season to polish up her resume for college scouts. While interest in her is minimal at the moment, Neudecker is optimistic a stellar senior season will garner some bigger offers.
"I've gotten about five letters from Division III schools, but hopefully I can play [Division] I," Neudecker said.
The River Hill girls' doubles team — the only other local participant in Saturday's state finals — didn't have as much success. The senior duo of Rena Shi and Audrey Cheng fell in straight sets (7-6, 6-2) to Bethesda-Chevy Chase's Anna Rozenberg and Emma Baker.
Cheng and Shi had blazed through the first three rounds of the bracket, winning their matches by a combined 36-3 before the final.
After a hotly contested first set, unforced errors cost River Hill any chance at getting back into the match.
"I just wasn't on my game today," Cheng said.
The Hawks duo wasn't a stranger to big matches. Cheng won the 2010 mixed doubles state title with Nathan Huber, while Shi was the 2009 Howard County champion.
"We could have played better but we did play pretty well," Shi said. "Unfortunately, we're seniors so we won't get another shot at this."
The River Hill tandem was the top seed in the girls' doubles bracket.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun