Jamestown's Leah Walter

Senior Leah Walter led Jamestown to the Region I team championship, won the singles title and took the doubles crown with younger sister Anna. (SONNY DEARTH/DAILY PRESS / May 14, 2013)

Leah Walter's stay in the state Group AA singles semifinals was shorter than she would have liked, but she and her Jamestown High teammates harbor realistic hope of contending for the team championship.

Jamestown's seemingly annual trek to the New River Valley for the state tournament began Thursday with a singles semifinal.

Walter, headed to the University of Virginia's engineering program, fell 6-0, 6-1 to Western Albemarle's Emily Kochard on Radford University's courts Thursday morning.

Walter won her first Region I singles crown to earn that semifinal berth, but she knew she was facing a serious challenge. Kochard is listed by the Tennis Recruiting Network as the 11th-best 11th-grader in Virginia.

"I was both honored and excited to get the chance to play some of the best singles players in the state," Walter told the Virginia Gazette. "The girl that I played was very good. We had some great points and some tough games, but she came out on top."

Kochard won a Region II singles tournament in which Handley's Jessie Nolan -- who beat Walter 7-5, 6-3 during the Eagles' 5-2 team victory Tuesday -- lost in a quarterfinal.

Walter enjoyed support from the Eagles' traveling party.

"It was so great having the whole team here with me," she said "Their cheering and positive vibes definitely helped me get through the match. Coach K (Karen Johnson) was also giving me a lot of encouragement on changeovers, which I really appreciated," she told the Gazette.

Unlike almost every other event in the Spring Jubilees based in Radford and Northern Virginia, tennis -- since it can be played indoors -- hasn't been affected too much by the specter of Tropical Storm Andrea.

So now the Eagles turn their focus to their primary concern: Friday's noon team semifinal against Hidden Valley of Roanoke, the 2010 and '11 champion.

"I'm really looking forward to the team match tomorrow," Walter told the Gazette. "The match today is great preparation for tomorrow."

Last season, with the now-graduated Abby Hunt at No. 2 instead of current freshman Anna Walter, the Eagles fell 5-1 in a semifinal to E.C. Glass. They got a rematch earlier this year, falling by just 5-4 to a Hilltoppers squad that has returned to the semis.

Leah Walter likely will face Ceyda Durmaz at the No. 1 spot. That matchup favors the Titans, since Durmaz beat Kochard for the singles crown Thursday afternoon.

After Jamestown faces Hidden Valley, the doubles tournament Friday afternoon will feature a semifinal with the Walter sisters against E.C. Glass' Paige Riley and Sydney Moon, the 2012 runners-up. Those tandems already have met this season, with the Walters earning a 6-4, 6-3 win during the Eagles' 5-4 team defeat.

The other half of the bracket has Nolan and Kathryn Bock, the defending champs, against Abingdon. Nolan and Bock were at 4-all with the Walter sisters Tuesday when their match was abandoned, thanks Jamestown gaining its fifth team point.