Sports

Mason’s Repper, Kane Fall in State Semifinal

RADFORD, Va. — After rolling through the team portion of their regular season with the best record in school history, it was a rough state tournament at Radford University for the George Mason High School girls tennis representatives, whose historic year concluded Friday when senior Michelle Repper and junior Kelsey Kane fell to Bland County’s Grace Sarver and Kirby Mustard 6-4, 6-3 in the group A doubles semifinals.

RADFORD, Va. — After rolling through the team portion of their regular season with the best record in school history, it was a rough state tournament at Radford University for the George Mason High School girls tennis representatives, whose historic year concluded Friday when senior Michelle Repper and junior Kelsey Kane fell to Bland County’s Grace Sarver and Kirby Mustard 6-4, 6-3 in the group A doubles semifinals.

This came one day after Sarver defeated Repper in the singles final, 6-1, 7-5.

The match ended when Repper double faulted twice, sandwiching Kane’s unforced error at the net. It was just that type of contest for Mason, though, one in which nothing seemed to go their way.

“I hate to take anything away from our opponent but I don’t think that we brought our best game today,” said Mason Coach Chris Madison.

Kane demonstrated her prowess at the net in the first game, slamming consecutive winners to open the set. For the first eight games in the set, no team broke serve and the serving team gave up no more than one point in any given game.

Mason attempted to play up to the net, especially given Mustard’s soft serve and Sarver’s difficulty with her first serve early in the set. Still, Sarver came out exactly the way she ended her straight-set win over Repper the day before: on fire. The fact that Mustard held serve five times turned out to be a bonus.

“[Mustard’s] serve was consistent but soft and we felt like we could take advantage of it,” Madison said. “Every time we tried we came up short, missed two inches wide or two inches long. That was our goal going into the match, to hold serve and break Kirby’s serve and we thought we could do that even after the first game when we didn’t get it, but it never happened. [Mustard] was the one who really surprised us at the net.”

It appeared that whichever duo broke first would take control and the advantage fell to Bland County when Repper double faulted, eventually smashing a backhand in the net to give Sarver and Mustard a 5-4 lead. Kane sailed a ball long, allowed Mustard to hold for the third time in the set and giving Bland the first-set victory.

Repper held serve to open up the second set and brought Mason to a break point on Sarver’s serve, eventually forcing a deuce. The Mustangs caught Mustard in between the back line and the net with a volley of forehands, getting the break early in the latter set. Unfortunately for them, Bland County immediately broke back when Mustard hit a winner at the net.

 

On Thursday, just an hour after dispatching her semifinal opponent, J.J. Kelly’s Andi Kilgore, in straight sets 6-0, 6-0, Repper ran into Sarver, a freshman with confidence and poise far beyond her age, who took advantage of Repper’s unforced errors to take the singles title. It seemed to be almost destiny for Sarver, whose sister and coach won four state titles while playing at Bland County.

“Honestly I wish I would have played better,” Repper said on Thursday. “My nerves always get to me when it comes to the finals, but it’s okay. I was tight, so I couldn’t really swing out or hit hard, which is what my game is. My slices were a little off and my serves weren’t as on point as I wanted them to be.”

After both players held in the second set, Sarver broke to go up 3-1, but Repper immediately broke back Eventually, the Mason senior took control of the set, forcing unforced errors on perfectly placed forehand smashes to lead 4-3. Double faults got the best of Repper, who lost serve and promptly allowed Sarver to hold, falling behind 5-4. Repper eventually pushed it to 5-5, setting the stage for Sarver’s winners in the last game.

“I was very confident just work my butt off today,” Sarver said. “I was nervous at first, especially this morning in my first match, but I’ve played a lot of tournament tennis so that really helped a lot. It was a real honor to be a freshman and to be from a small school to win it.”

The losses end an historic career at Mason for Repper, who will attend William and Mary in the fall. The senior placed second in her first-ever singles finals match, leading the Mason team to three-straight state championship appearances after the Mustangs failed to get out of districts for the two years prior to Repper’s freshman year. She also is a two-time Region B singles champion.

“She had a great career and I really wanted her to finish her career with a state championship under her belt because she’s worked hard and deserved it,” Madison said about Repper, who has lost to the eventual doubles champion every year.

“I think [Michelle] was disappointed with the outcome,” Kane added, “but we tried our best and we can’t do anything about it now.”