Doubles team steps up its game in state title match
Westfield girls tennis head coach Wendy Bryan had a huge advantage when it came to picking a doubles team that she thought could win the GISA Class AAA title.
She had Stephanie Campbell coming back for her senior year, who won the 2013 title along with Valerie McLure.
The decision was who to team with Campbell.
Bryans choice of Laura Johnson, another senior, paid off for Westfield. The team of Campbell and Johnson won the state title with a hard-fought, three-set win over Deerfield-Windsors Joyner Tyson and Amy Rao.
Campbell and Johnson are The Telegraph All-Middle Georgia Girls Tennis Players of the Year.
I didnt play them together at the beginning of the year, but I was fairly sure it would be those two together by the time the state championships got here, said Bryan, who is in her 10th season as the Hornets head coach. Once they started playing together, I never had a doubt that they could win the state championship. They never lost a match, and they blended into a very strong doubles team.
Campbell wasnt so sure where she would end up at the beginning of the season and actually thought that she might end up playing singles in the state championship tournament.
I thought singles was a possibility, but I really prefer playing doubles, and once I started playing with Laura, I felt like we could win state, said Campbell, who was the salutatorian of her class and will attend Georgia. We had never really played together before, but we have been good friends since the second grade, and that really helped us on the tennis court.
She is so aggressive, and that allowed me to do what I do best, which is to just get the ball back over the net.
Johnson said she quietly hoped that she would end up playing with Campbell.
I know how good she is, and when Im not playing well, she always picked us up, said Johnson, who also played softball for Westfield and will attend Valdosta State. I have always wanted to play with her, and once we found out we were going to play together, we knew we were capable of winning state.
The road to the state championship was not easy. After a grueling two-set win over a team from Weber in the semifinals, they found themselves in a battle with Tyson and Rao, who won the second set from Campbell and Johnson to force a decisive third set. That was the first set Campbell and Johnson had lost the entire season.
We were mentally exhausted by then because we only had about 45 minutes between the semis and the final, Campbell said. We had already played about five hours of tennis that day, and after we lost the set, we just stayed on the court. I think we were mad that we had let them back in the match, but Laura just kind of looked at me and we kept telling each other that we were OK.
After jumping to a 3-0 lead in the final set, Campbell and Johnson allowed Tyson and Rao to tie the score. But Campbell and Johnson quickly regained their composure to win the next three games and secure the championship.
Neither Campbell or Johnson will play on the intercollegiate tennis teams at their respective colleges, but they both said that winning a state championship is not something they will soon forget.
I have always loved the game, but I am someone who plays it more for fun, Johnson said. I am sure we will both continue to play tennis, and we will always have great memories of winning a state championship.