Grit, determination, victory
RENO – As they quietly gathered together with one match moments from concluding, they knew history had been made – again.
Battling a new rival to the second tiebreaker in three meetings, the Lady Wave tennis team outlasted Truckee to win the 3A Northern Division regional team championship Friday afternoon at the Reno Tennis Center. Both teams tied after each of the three rounds to force the tiebreaker when Fallon won 5-1 to claim the school’s first-ever regional championship.
“We were really nervous but also confident because we beat them in the past and they’re good players,” Fallon senior and No.1 singles player Melanie Nuckolls said.
Nuckolls had to battle from multiple deficits, including an early hole in the third round, but prevailed to defeat Truckee senior Maya Willis, 7-5. Both Fallon’s Nos. 1 and 2 doubles teams swept all three rounds and were done early, setting the stage for Nuckolls, and teammate and No. 2 singles player, Sarah Inglis, who battled senior lefty Annie Guerra.
“When both teams play their best, we always end in a tiebreak,” said Truckee coach Henry Ryerson, whose team lost a 10-9 tiebreaker to Fallon last month. “They’ve been a tough team all season. Our team, we’ve surpassed any expectations. It’s been a rebuilding year.
“We knew there was potential for another tiebreaker. We were hoping for an upset here or there. We made improvement since the last meeting. I’m really proud of the girls and both teams for playing good tennis. You can’t win them all.”
Inglis stayed with Guerra for most of the match before the senior Wolverine clamped down and won her second match of the day, 6-4. But Inglis exacted revenge in the tiebreaker around against Willis, to whom she lost, 6-4, in the opening round.
“I just kept telling myself that it’s 0-0 and to play each point like it’s my last point,” Inglis said. “It’s amazing. I’m very emotional but not in a bad way because we’re very happy. We’ve worked for four years to get to this point. It’s very rewarding.”
There were no surprises in the first three rounds as Fallon’s top doubles teams didn’t lose and Truckee’s singles players won six of nine matches. In the tiebreaker round, though, Fallon’s No. 2 singles and No. 3 doubles teams broke through to give Fallon the north’s No. 1 seed for the state team tournament in two weeks.
“This has been an exciting day. I’m very proud of the girls,” second year Fallon coach Jessica Nuckolls said. “They really pulled it out. You have different ideas of how the game’s going to go. Even down to the end, I didn’t know how it will go. They have battled hard. Today, they proved why they are 10-0. A team (Truckee) this good, it’s a battle to the end. You can’t just go in thinking you’re going to win. It is a fight. We fought today and we fought hard.”
Inglis defeated Willis, 7-2, in the tiebreaker while the doubles team of freshmen Brooklyn Whitaker and Kate Dunkin defeated Truckee freshmen duo Courtney Engberg and Rachel Heath for their first and only win on the afternoon.
Fallon’s No. 1 doubles team of seniors Izzy Martinez and Kayla Bekiares and No. 2 doubles team of seniors Lana Quint and Paola Duenas didn’t allow more than three games won by Truckee. Martinez-Bekiares won 6-1, 6-2 and 6-0, while Quint-Duenas won 6-3, 6-2 and 6-1. Fallon’s No. 3 singles player, senior Delaney Young, struggled in her three matches.
For Truckee, junior Rebecca Ziegler, Willis and Guerra each won two singles matches. The doubles teams of junior Kylie Greeno and senior Meghan Stokes, senior Emmy Downing and junior Sarah Jane Shaffer, and freshmen Engberg and Heath each won one match.
“We all played our best and it came down to the wire,” Ziegler said.