The story line was strikingly familiar at Saturday’s state tennis championships at Glendale’s Paseo Racquet Center, but with a better ending for Madison Clarke.
The Xavier Prep sophomore, who lost last year’s championship singles match in three sets to then-Salpointe Catholic senior Courtney Amos, this time beat Amos’ sophomore sister, Caroline, 6-0, 3-6, 6-0 for the title.
Unlike last year, when Clarke was blanked in the third set, she didn’t drop a game in the third.
“A year makes a lot of difference,” she said. “This time, I had a lot more experience and confidence.”
Saturday’s win capped a dominant season for Clarke, whose only loss was by withdrawal against Amos in the first set of a regular-season match.
The Xavier player entered the final having won four matches in straight sets, but after dropping the second to Amos, had to regroup.
“I calmed myself down and played it point by point,” she said.
Amos, who lost only twice in a season out from under her older sister’s shadow, said Clarke was just sharper.
“I don’t feel I gave her anything,” Amos said. “She was just great.”
Xavier coach Laurie Martin said Clarke, who surrendered a sizable lead to the elder Amos last year, was determined not to again this year.
“Madison is a real competitor,” Martin said. “She wants it every time she shows up on the court.”
Though Clarke needed a third set, Xavier’s doubles team of Maggie Cohen and Scarlet Rush repeated as champions by sweeping teammates Emily Serrano and Madison Majerle 6-1, 6-0 in an all-Xavier final.
Cohen and Rush dominated, losing a game early in the first set, then running the table. Rush, a sophomore, attributed it to intuitively sensing where here junior partner would be.
“We work well together and were on our game,” she said.
Cohen said beating teammates created a mix of emotions.
“We had to do what we had to do,” she said. “(Winning) was kind of hard, though.”
The doubles final was a treat for Martin, whose school hadn’t enjoyed an all-Xavier doubles final since her daughter Amanda won with Lindsey Griffin in 2003.
“It’s fun, awesome. How can it be any other way?” the coach said of undivided loyalty. “I just get to sit back and watch great tennis.”