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MARBLE FALLS — Faith Academy tennis player Sarah Mason Thomas couldn’t hide her emotions in front of family, teachers and friends on a day she had dreamed of for years.“I just want to say thank you all for coming,” Thomas said during a signing ceremony April 17. “I love y’all very much.”

Thomas had just signed to play Division I college tennis at Longwood University. The 16-year-old senior couldn’t say anything more to the dozens gathered without getting choked up.

“We’re excited for her. It’s really tough going so far away, but we’re excited she gets to fulfill her dream of playing in Division I, and I think that was part of the idea of her going to Longwood University,” said her mother, Sandra Thomas.

Longwood University, located in Farmville, Va., is a Division I school in the Big South Conference.

Thomas called the signing ceremony one of the “coolest experiences” she’s had but also a bittersweet one.

“It’s bittersweet because I’m leaving my friends to go to Virginia, so that’s the bitter part,” Thomas said. “But it’s sweet because I get to follow my dream and play tennis in college at a D-I school.”

On April 16, Thomas won the district singles championship and will now compete for an individual title and the Lady Flames girls team’s fourth straight state championship April 24-25 in Waco.