ROANOKE, Va. - The competition only gets more difficult as the postseason approaches the end. That is fine with Abingdon junior Anna Campbell. She would have it no other way.
“I think the pressure is definitely different. People are just kind of expecting more, but I am fine with it,” said Campbell, who combined with senior Annie Miller in a 7-5, 6-0 Class 3 doubles semifinal loss on Friday at the Hunting Hills Country Club indoor facility. “I like it, I like to be able to play competitively with people.
“During the season, it is great, it is fun, but during the postseason, I think I enjoy more because there are more competitive matches, more competitive players, that is what I love about it.”
Abingdon had fun early against the Western Albemarle duo of Corrine Jennings and Austin Winslow, taking a 4-1 lead in the opening set, but the Warriors then grabbed the momentum and wouldn’t let it go.
“We lost the momentum. I told Anna if we get the momentum back, if we win this set we will be fine, but we just couldn’t get it,” Miller said. “When I was talking to our coach, I said, ‘What I am doing wrong, what can I do differently.’ He said, ‘You are not doing anything wrong, you are doing everything you can.’”
Led by the hard-hitting Jennings and the consistent strokes from Winslow, the Warriors rallied to take the first set 7-5, and then rolled through the second set, claiming 12 of the final 13 points in the match.
“When a good team gets behind like that, they start looking for ways to get back into the match,” Abingdon girls coach Jim Barker said. “They reduced their unforced errors and they started getting a lot more balls in play and by doing that, they forced us into unforced errors.
“We were getting into long rallies. That is what we want to do, we want to get into long rallies and force errors, but we were getting in long rallies and then [Jennings] started powering the ball down the alley on the forehand side. They got some force that way, they started building momentum and they just took the momentum away from us.”
Campbell had already played Jennings twice during the week, splitting a pair of matches, including a singles semifinal victory on Thursday. Together, however, Jennings and Winslow were too tough to catch.
“Both times I played her I would get up and she would just come back every time. They are just a tough team, they are resilient. You have got to respect it,” Campbell said. “She is a good player. We have split sets both times we have played so we have had good matches. She is a great player, they both are. One of the girls is just a freshman, she has tons of potential.”
After taking a 4-1 first set lead, the Warriors dug in, rallying back to tie the score at 4-4 before an ace by Campbell put the Falcons back ahead 5-4.
It was all the Warriors from that point on.
“In doubles, a lot of times it is momentum. We had it early on and we got to an early lead,” Barker said. “They kind of wrestled it away from us by changing their strategy a little bit and once they got their momentum then we just couldn’t catch up.
“We tried to steal it back from them. They are a good team and that is what you are supposed to do with a good team.”
The Western Albemarle duo won the final three points of the first set, and then won all six in the final set played by a pair of close friends who have been playing doubles competitively for two years with the Falcons.
“We have played doubles for two years, but we have practiced together for like seven years. We have known each other for a while,” Campbell said. “I think she just kind of picks me up. I can be kind of hard on myself and on her, I am sure. She just kind of picks me up. She is a positive influence on the court.
“We have been playing forever so she is skilled. She has been in the game for a while and she gives good advice, I like playing with her.”
Ditto for Miller, a senior, who will attend Virginia Tech in the fall.
“She can keep it deep and she can rally and I can just get in there and do the volleys,” Miller said. “It usually works, but not today.”
The Abingdon duo, who had 4KN written on their left shoulders, has competed much of the postseason with heavy hearts, playing in the honor of classmate Kirk Nairn, who was killed in a car accident on the night before he would have graduated from Abingdon.
“It has been fun. We were both really close with Kirk Nairn so playing with her and how we have been close together, that has been really fun,” Miller said. “When we came out the balls were all 4s so that is very special.”
Campbell came into the season with one goal in mind, and she made it happen, losing just one singles and double match, and was part of a team that lost just three times all year.
“I am happy with it,” Campbell said. “All I wanted to do was to be better than I was last year which I did so I am fine with however this year turned out.”
Barker certainly appreciated the effort of his doubles team, which will be split up next season. Barker already has prospects as a replacement for Miller next spring.
“They won the region, went undefeated up to this point,” Barker said. “We had our chances in this match. It is not like we got blown away in the match, we had our chances so I am very proud of them for doing that.
“We have had a great season. For Annie, I would like to see it go a little bit further with her being a senior, but it didn’t work out that way for us today.”
Jennings and Winslow fell to York’s Natasha Novak and Cassie Watts 7-5, 6-2 in the Class 3 state doubles finals. Novak, who defeated Campbell in the singles finals on Thursday, combined with Cassie Watts for a 6-1, 6-2 semifinal win over Haley Caspersen and Winny Hall from James Monroe.