In the early stages of the 2A mixed doubles state championship match on Saturday morning, Century’s Danielle DeLawter and her brother Evan were faced with a moment of true adversity.
“I rolled my ankle literally at the beginning of the first set and I think right away I got nervous,” Danielle said. “It didn’t hurt that bad, but I had a limp. I got it wrapped and I was just thinking I have to keep going.”
Pulling together, the DeLawter siblings — both juniors — not only kept going but finished off a memorable run through the bracket with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Eastern Tech’s Gabriela Martinez and Alfonso Martinez.
It’s the first mixed doubles state title in Century program history.
Afterward, Danielle credited her brother for shouldering more of the load as she worked to regain her footing. Evan said he didn’t think twice about stepping up.
“My whole focus mentally was on picking her up. If she wasn’t 100% or able to play as well, that just meant I had to make sure I played so much better,” he said. “I feel like if it was the other way, she would do the same for me.”
The championship match victory wrapped up a six-win roll through regionals and states where the pair didn’t lose a set. A 6-4, 6-0 win over Easton’s Allison Cherwin and Andrew Ottey had earned the berth in Saturday’s final at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club in Columbia.
Despite the overwhelming success, however, the duo said that they entered this year’s postseason with no prior competitive experience playing alongside one another — only occasionally hitting around next to one another for fun with their father.
“This has always been the dream in the back of our minds even though we hadn’t done it before,” Evan said.
Danielle points out that a victory in mixed doubles at the Carroll County championship tournament, defeating Westminsters’ Amber Manspeaker and Aaron Sorkin (2-6, 6-4, 13-11) in a third-set tiebreak, did wonders for their confidence.
“That was our first big win together and we played some really tough opponents. Knowing that we could beat them really pushed us into this tournament,” she said.
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The only other competitors from Carroll County in the finals were Francis Scott Key’s Paige Bussells and Gavin Bussells, who squared off in the 1A mixed doubles state championship and lost 6-0, 6-1 against Patterson Mill’s Lily Holtschneider and Connor Kragh.