Tennis: Chargers do the double
Duchesne served up a second straight title at the TAPPS Class 5A State Tennis Tournament at the Waco Regional Tennis Center.
The Chargers were perhaps even more impressive this time, sweeping the girls singles and doubles divisions.
"I think this one probably feels nicer," said Duchesne head coach Carman West. "Winning the team championship was great last year, but our doubles team lost in the finals. The fact we were able to win both (divisions) this time makes it even more special."
Duchesne tallied 21 points to win easily over El Paso Loretto (16.5), Fort Worth Nolan (14.5), Dallas Ursuline (12) and San Antonio Antonian (8).
Sophomore Farris Cunningham became a two-time state champion in girls singles, rolling through the draw. In four matches, Cunningham relinquished only six games.
Cunningham crushed San Antonio Incarnate Word's Jenna Zaragoza 6-0, 6-0 and Plano Prestonwood Christian's Meghan White 6-1, 6-0 in the first two rounds. She was pushed in the semifinals but notched a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Dallas Bishop Lynch's Mallory Kenny.
Cunningham expected a tight contest against rival Marcelli Magday of Fort Worth Nolan in the finals. Instead, she double-bageled her opponent 6-0, 6-0.
"Marcelli is a good friend of mine. She's given me trouble in the past," Cunningham said. "We had some close points, but most of them went my way. Sometimes, that happens in tennis."
But West said there's no doubt that Cunningham is the No. 1 player in TAPPS.
"Farris is a talented, young lady," Cunningham said. "She works hard to be the best."
Cunningham's teammates had a more challenging road in their title run.
The doubles team of senior Jenna Dodge and junior Kelsey Van Noy didn't drop a set in the first three rounds. They beat Elizabeth Robinson and Kara Vogelzang of Argyle Liberty Christian 6-3, 6-1 in the opener, then eased past Audrey Camero and Mary Luckett of San Antonio Antonian 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Dodge and Van Noy took care of Marianna Dominguez and Natalia Salgado 7-6, 6-1.
However, it appeared like Dodge and Van Noy's run might end. They dropped the opening set to El Paso Loretto's Gabriella Hunt and Chandler West before rallying for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
"It was our first time on the main stadium. We had the fans and all of family there cheering for us, and we probably came out a little nervous," Dodge admitted. "But we didn't lose our composure. We talked it over and kept competing."
Dodge, who is headed to the University of North Carolina-Asheville on a tennis scholarship, and Van Noy were down an early break in the third set, but they took control down the stretch.
"It was an exciting match that could have gone either way," Van Noy said.
Both players had endured their share of close calls at state over the years. Dodge placed third in singles her first two seasons before finishing as doubles runner-up with former partner Clothilde Thirouin last year. Meanwhile, Van Noy lost in the singles quarterfinals as a freshman and the semifinals her sophomore year.
"I'm so happy Jenna was able to win state her senior year," Van Noy said.
Duchesne's other doubles duo lost in the first round at state. The tandem of juniors Alexis Cunningham and Catherine Butler fell to Fort Worth Nolan's Evangeli Inocando and Laura Jacobi 6-0, 6-4.
"Alexis and Catherine played a great match, especially the second set," West said.
With five of their top six players returning, the Chargers loom as one of the early favorites in 2012. Could Duchesne make it three in a row?
"It's possible, but it depends on whether everyone comes back and stays healthy," West said.
Farris Cunningham, who is ranked in the top 10 in Texas in super championship 16s, plans to be back.
"I love high school tennis," Cunningham said. "It's fun representing your school and getting a chance to play with my older sister. It doesn't get any better than this."
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