A promising season came to a disappointing end on Wednesday for the Brookstone girls tennis team.
The Lady Cougars (15-4) lost in the quarterfinals of the Class A private playoffs 3-2 to Walker, an early exit for a perennial contender that has won state titles in six of the past 11 seasons. It was the first time since 1999 the Lady Cougars failed to reach the semifinals.
“I told (the team) that I thought we were just as good a team as Walker and that any other day, we would have beaten them,” coach Mary Lynne Cumiskey said after the match. “A point here and a point there in a couple of matches, and things could have gone our way.”
The first two matches to finish went in Brookstone’s favor, as Avery Hudson shut out Amitha Muthsah in No. 1 singles (6-0, 6-0) and the No. 2 doubles team of Emmie Patton and Rachel Hemmings won 6-2, 6-1.
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But the Lady Cougars trailed by a set in each of the other three matches, leaving the team result in doubt.
Walker pulled off two-set victories in each of the other three matches to clinch a team victory and move on to the semifinals, where it will meet the winner of Darlington and Pace Academy.
Walker’s Carly Bloom defeated Rachel Levy 6-2, 6-1 in No. 2 singles; Mia Pattillo topped Brookstone’s Jessica Lewis 6-2, 6-4 in No. 3 singles; and Walker’s No. 1 doubles team won 6-3, 6-2.
“We felt like we had a lot of momentum,” Cumiskey said. “Give Walker credit, though. They fought back. The momentum changed. When the momentum changes, you have to be able to hang on and take some of it back.”
Despite the loss, Cumiskey was upbeat about her team’s performance this season and excited about the future of the program.
Brookstone won its area and had a number of good wins, Cumiskey said. More importantly, perhaps, is the help her seniors have given the younger players.
“They’ve really done a good job teaching the younger girls strategies and how to win,” she said.
Four seniors will leave the team, but only two who actively competed. Five of the team’s seven active players return in 2014, giving the coach plenty of optimism going forward.
“I think we’ll be pretty good,” Cumiskey said, perhaps even understating it considering the long run of success the program has had. “We’ll be pretty experienced next year. We’ll only have one senior, but plenty of experience coming back. It’s something we can keep building on.”
After talking about the future, however, Cumiskey was still focused on this season. She shared hugs with her team and spoke again about the season behind them.
“I just hate it for them,” she said. “They worked so hard this year.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Wednesday at Brookstone
No. 1: Avery Hudson d. Amitha Muthsah (6-0, 6-0); No. 2: Carly Bloom d. Rachel Levy (6-2, 6-1); No. 3: Mia Patillo d. Jessica Lewis (6-2, 6-4).
No. 1: Audrey Cunningham/Leigh Norsworthy d. Abby White/Alexandra McCluskey (6-3, 6-2); No. 2: Emmie Patton/Rachel Hemmings d. Caroline Kunetz/Holly Harkins (6-2, 6-1).