About the only drama at the girls’ 4A Division II team state tennis championships on Thursday was when Notre Dame would clinch its fifth straight title.
More specifically for senior Gina Losole, it was whether she would get to actually finish what she said was her last competitive tennis match.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh my gosh, everyone slow down, I have to finish, I’m the senior,’” said Losole, who has been part of all four state champion teams while in high school. “I just wanted to finish my match because I haven’t had to finish one in the playoffs. I wanted to finish my last high school match.”
Once the Saints swept the doubles matches on Thursday at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale, they only needed to win two of the remaining six singles matches against Phoenix Washington to clinch the win.
No. 3 Kelsie Sanborn and No. 4 Caitlin Railson only lost one game in winning their matches, meaning one of the other four would end the competition.
“I was going to finish this one,” Losole said. “I was running around the court, and I usually don’t do that, chasing the balls down. It was pretty funny watching me finish.”
Once Losole finished off Washington’s Julia Anaya 6-1, 6-0, the Saints had their 5-0 team victory.
The Notre Dame girls have not had a close final since beating Arcadia 5-4 to begin its string in 2007. The year before, as a No. 1 seed, Notre Dame lost to third-seeded Arcadia.
“Winning state all four years, that’s so unheard of,” said Losole. “So I’ve never known what it is like to lose. I never got to experience it so that’s pretty awesome. Winning one time is such a great achievement.”
Losole and Sanborn, who lost in the state doubles semifinals and finished third in the state last week, won their match and Caroline Eversman and Railson won theirs to get things started for Notre Dame on Thursday.
“We’ve created something and we’ve built something,” Notre Dame coach Shelley Dinges said. “It’s not something that we have been relying on one year or class. It is something we have built over time.”
It appeared as though the Arcadia boys were cruising to its second straight state 4A-II team tennis title, but a couple of Notre Dame players extended the day a bit.
But when Jake Hoselton beat Ryan Hagen, the second-seeded Titans clinched the state championship on Thursday 5-3.
“So we went up 4-1 and then they came back,” said Louis Sacks, Arcadia's No. 1 singles player. “Then they came back 4-3 so I was almost more nervous off the court than on.”
Sacks, ranked in the top ten among 18-year-old players in the Southwest, according to the U.S. Tennis Association rankings, swept Notre Dame's No. 1, Bo Oelkers, 6-0, 6-0, to give the Titans one of their first two singles wins after Arcadia had won two of three doubles matches.
No. 5 Caleb Rose-Kamprath beat Mark Pregelski 6-1, 6-1 in another match. But Notre Dame No. 4 Shane Lubold outlasted Will Berger 3-6, 6-4, 7-3, to keep the Saints alive.
Then, freshman Adrian Cordova, playing No. 2 singles, got past Joel Rose-Kamprath 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, and Notre Dame pulled closer. That is, until the No. 3 singles match ended the day with Hoselton (Sacks’ doubles partner) winning 7-5, 6-3.
“It was amazing way to end high school tennis like this, as a senior, to go out like this,” said Sacks.
The Notre Dame boys lost in second round in 2010, as a No. 2 seed and lost in semis in 2009 after beating Arcadia as a third seed in 2008 and with Cordova having three years remaining, it figures the Saints should be in the mix for the foreseeable future.
“It was just a really good opportunity, as a freshman, I didn’t expect to get this far," Cordova said. "But it feels really good just knowing that we made it this far.”