Sacred Heart’s doubles dominance continued Saturday as Katherine English and Sydney Thompson defeated Notre Dame’s Laura Irons and Catriona Shaughnessy 6-0, 7-6 to win the state championship at UK’s Hilary Boone Tennis Center.
English became the first player since 1980 to win three consecutive doubles championships, winning the previous two years with Caitlin Hanley.
Thompson became a state champion for the first time.
“It feels amazing. I have a great partner, and we had a great season — we went undefeated,” Thompson said. “Winning team and doubles, it feels great.”
Sayre’s Madeline Rolph was crowned the singles’ champion.
The Sacred Heart duo dominated the first set in just 19 minutes and looked like they would walk away without so much as breaking a sweat.
“Last year, we lost the first set. They (Notre Dame) are a really good team and I knew how they were feeling,” English said. “We knew we had to stay focused, because they were going to come back strong. It wasn’t going to be 6-0 in the second set.”
Coach Kristin English said she told her team that Notre Dame would come back.
“Catriona is such a fighter, and we have played them so many times,” she said.
The Valkyries made some adjustments as well, and won the second set tiebreaker 7-0.
“I told the girls to go more down the middle, keep the ball away from Catriona — she controls a lot of the points, she is such a good athlete,” coach English said.
Notre Dame coach Rob Hardin believes his team panicked when they found themselves facing another deficit.
“When you get behind, you start pressing even more,” Hardin said. “We got off to a bad start, and we tried some shots we should have never tried. You can’t get down and then start trying something new.”
The Sacred Heart coach relished being able to rely on her doubles teams to help lead the Valkyries in team competition.
“We know we can always count on our No. 1 and No. 2 doubles to get us points, so then our singles girls are steady,” coach English said. “To get those two points early and quickly helps calm everyone else down and hopefully also makes the other team nervous.”
Sayre’s Madeline Rolph dispatched Ellie Gerlach of Christian Academy 6-4, 6-2 to win the singles championship.
“It was a good match. I knew it was going to be tough. I stayed calm, did my thing and was happy to win,” Rolph said.
Rolph was home-schooled for two years, and this was her first year attending high school.
“I decided to do high school tennis, and I never dreamed that I would actually win the first year I played,” Rolph said.
The first set was particularly testy at times, with both players displaying their passion and frustration with each other, rulings from the chair and their own play.