JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
WACO — The Faith Academy tennis program won both the boys and the girls Class 2A state championships of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools on April 25.
Faith has won at least one state title in seven of the past eight years, but it’s the first time both teams won the state championships in the same year.
The Lady Flames earned their fourth consecutive team championship, a goal seniors Sarah Mason Thomas, Nicole Johnson and Savannah Still have had since before they were freshmen.
And Faith earned the team titles without winning an individual gold medal in singles or doubles.
“It would have been cool to get four straight first places,” said Thomas, whose string of individual state championships in singles and doubles ended with a silver medal in singles. “Obviously, getting to the finals contributes to the state team title. For me, Nicole and Savannah, that was still exciting. In the end, it comes down to everyone, not just the ones who get first places.”
The Lady Flames tallied 24 points, while Tomball Woodlands earned 20.5 for second and Denton Calvary Academy scored 14.5.
“It feels really good,” Johnson said. “We’ve been playing together since the sixth grade. That was always our long-term goal. When we were freshmen, we said, ‘Let’s win four together.’ It’s really awesome.”
Johnson said the competition at the state tournament was more challenging than in the past. Team members called the tallying of points “nerve-wracking.”
The boys team scored 15.5 points to win the team championship, edging New Braunfels Christian with 13.5 points, Austin Veritas with 10 points and Hallettsville Sacred Heart with 9.5 points.
Junior Reagan Vaughn said he was surprised to learn the boys captured the state championship.
“I wasn’t expecting us to do as well as we did,” he said.
Most of the Faith players reached at least the semifinals in all four divisions. Vaughn and Thomas each played for singles championships. Johnson and partner Still and Luke Hering and Alec Gonzales each reached the doubles semifinals.
Vaughn said the ride back to Marble Falls was a lot of fun. The players broke into their version of “We Are the Champions” and enjoyed a celebration meal.
Vaughn said he believes the boys will be stronger in 2014.
“It’ll be cool to win back-to-back (titles),” he said. “We’re not losing anyone on the guys’ side.”
That’s not the case with the girls. Thomas, Johnson, Still and Rebekah Graham will graduate in a few weeks.
“Nothing’s incomplete,” Thomas said. “I’m happy with everything.”
“It never really was about the individual titles,” Johnson said. “It was mainly getting first as a team.”
Boys singles— Reagan Vaughn lost 6-2, 2-6, 4-6 to Ryker Heller in the finals, def. Mason Matias 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 and def. Greg Barns 6-1, 6-2. Rich Coleman lost 1-6, 1-6 to Will Tankasky.
Boys doubles —Luke Hering and Alec Gonzales lost 5-7, 4-6 to Travis Isley and Alec Gonzales in the semifinals, def. Matthew Dechant and Luke Hufferber 6-3, 6-4, def. Matthew Dechant and Luke Hofferber 6-1, 6-4, def. Austin Hain and Adrian Kimbrell 6-0, 6-1and def. Andrew Lajaunie 6-0, 6-4
Girls singles — Sarah Mason Thomas lost 0-6, 1-6 to Allyson Hayley in the finals, def. Lexie Alexander 6-0, 6-0, def. Angela Wilson 6-1, 6-0 and def. Annie Bailey 6-0, 6-0. Brandi Kuhlmann lost 2-6, 0-6 to Allyson Hayley in the semifinals, def. Kathryn Sild 6-3, 6-4 and def. Marianna Herndon 6-2, 6-3.
Girls doubles — Savannah Still/Nicole Johnson lost 5-7, 1-6 to Anja Pauli and Joanna Walzebuck in semfinals, def. Katie Denson and Kourtney Knesek 6-3, 6-2, def. Katie Denson and Kourtney Knesek 6-3, 6-2, def. Crystal Johnson and Mariana Montano (withdrew). Ariel Blaylock and Rebekah Graham lost 5-7, 6-2 to sisters Amy Grunden and Laura Grunden in quarterfinals and def. Jenna Brown and Ariana Kubena 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).