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OKLAHOMA CITY —
In the span of two minutes Saturday afternoon, the Duncan Lady Demons tennis team erased years of frustration at the State Tournament.
Moments after Carly Kirkland and Marissa Moore won their No. 2 doubles final against Bixby, the No. 1 doubles team of Sydney Henricks and Samantha Cassidy won theirs, also against Bixby.
With the victories, Duncan’s Lady Demons could lay claim to the first ever girls team state championship in the programs history, breaking a tie with Cascia Hall, who finished in second place.
The occasion was also a special one for Duncan coach Phil Barnes, who claimed his first girls team state title in the process.
“It feels just incredible, I’m so happy for these girls and all the girls that paved the way,” Barnes said moments after the dramatic doubles victories. “All the hard work they have done paid off today. This is a team effort, it’s just unbelievable how everything ended like it did. We didn’t back into anything, we won this state championship ourselves.”
Entering the final round of competition, the Lady Demons were assured of at least a share of the state title with Cascia Hall.
All Duncan needed was one victory in any of their four matches, or a loss by CHHS in one of their matches.
Despite dropping the first set against Roberson and Taylor from Bixby 5-7, Marissa Moore and Carly Kirkland weren’t about to falter so close to the finish line.
DHS’ No. 2 doubles team then put together a dramatic comeback, winning the second and third sets by similar scores of 6-4 and 6-4 to claim the state title for Duncan.
“When I saw it was over, I started crying as soon as that ball hit the net,” Moore said. “I think the finish was meant to be, with us finishing as a team. This really means a lot to both doubles teams. To beat all the private schools finally feels really great for all of us.”
Kirkland added that when the match initially ended, she couldn’t believe what had just happened.
“Honestly, when that ball hit the net, I didn’t believe it at first,” she said. “I’ve been nervous all week, but my mom texted me the bible verse Timothy 1:7 this morning and that helped me so much. We’re doing this to give God the glory and that’s why were here. The fact we pulled it out in three sets makes the win that much better.”
Moore and Kirkland defeated Casica Hall’s doubles pair of Hagan and Synder in the semifinal round by scores of 6-4, 6-4. In the opening round, the team of Fennell and Storie from Shawnee were defeated 6-1, 6-1, before Howells and Robbins from Guthrie were defeated by Moore and Kirkland by scores of 6-0 and 6-4.
Meanwhile, there was no shortage of emotion for Samantha Cassidy and Sydney Henricks when their championship clinching point was claimed.
After an emotional hug was shared between the two partners, Cassidy and Henricks were mobbed by their teammates and coaches on court three, in celebration of their dramatic three set victory.
DHS claimed a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 victory over the doubles team of Lucas and Parker from Bixby in the finals.
Cassidy will graduate as a two-time state champion member of the Lady Demons tennis program.
“This one means a lot, because it’s my senior year and I wanted to give it all I had,” Cassidy said. “I didn’t think I would ever be able to win state again. We’ve never won a team state title for girls before, and now we’ll be on the scavenger hunt list as a question regarding state champions.”
Henricks admitted seeing her teammates win their match motivated her and Cassidy to win theirs.
“As soon as we heard them (Moore and Kirkland) win, we told ourselves we need to finish it,” she said. “It’s just surreal right now. If you would have asked us after regionals if we were going to win state, then we would have had confidence, but never imagined it would be like this. I feel numb right now, I never thought I would get the chance to do this for Coach Barnes and this team along with Sam and represent Duncan. I’m extremely blessed and so thankful.”
Henricks and Cassidy defeated the team of Anderson and Thompsor from Piedmont in the first round 6-0, 6-0 before handling Heist and Schiefelbein from Tahlequah in the second round by scores of 6-1, 6-1. In the semifinals, Duncan prevailed over Heritage Hall 4-6, 6-3 and 6-1.
Unfortunately, in the singles matches the results didn’t go the way of the Lady Demons.
Both Alex Bowers and Brittany Toone were forced to settle for the runner-up spot in the finals of the singles matches.
After defeating Kenidee Wakeland from Grove in the first round (6-0, 6-0) Toone then claimed another straight set victory over Meagan Hanson from Shawnee in the second round (6-0, 6-0). The semifinals saw Toone defeat Kat Allen from Heritage Hall by scores of 7-5 and 6-3 before falling in the finals against Casica Hall’s Peyton Jennings by scores of 6-1 and 6-1.
“I’m so happy for my team and my coach, it’s crazy,” Toone said about winning the team state title. “It was so cool because before our final match we read the bible and we’re the most happy about giving God the glory because of how we performed.”
Bowers meanwhile defeated Karlee Tate of Deer Creek in the first round (6-1, 6-0) before defeating Sydney Shortridge of Bixby in the second round by scores of 6-0, 6-0. In the semifinals, Bowers defeated Heritage Hall’s Hannah Bowen by scores of 6-1 and 6-3 before falling in the finals to Hayden Siegfried of Casica Hall 6-4, 6-4.
“I just feel really blessed that God has given all of us this opportunity,” Bowers said. “I was so happy for both our doubles teams. Them winning just made everything that much better and it’s an awesome feeling right now.”