RENO — Chelsea Crovetti came into the Division I state girls tennis championships with a target on her back.
The runnerup in girls singles last season, the Bishop Gorman sophomore was a favorite to compete for the crown this year.
Crovetti lived up to her reputation, claiming the state individual singles title Saturday at Caughlin Athletic Club, outlasting Coronado’s Samantha Smith, 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) in a fantastic final that drained both players.
Crovetti and Smith competed Friday in the team final and each won a quarterfinal match Friday afternoon and a semifinal Saturday morning.
Crovetti, in particular, seemed to be running out of gas by the end.
“It was just a lot of heart that helped her pull through that situation, and it makes your adrenaline go so you can do whatever it takes to keep battling,” Gorman coach Gordon Hammond said. “It was a very close match, and Sammy had the chance to finish her off, but Chelsea hung around as it went back and forth like a big seesaw.”
Smith defeated Crovetti 6-3 during Friday’s team finals, but nerves might have crept in during the singles final.
“To me it just looked like there were some nerves on one side (from Smith) and persistence on the other (from Crovetti),” Hammond said. “I’m sure Sammy will be back, though.”
In the doubles final, Palo Verde’s Chloe Henderson and Kristen Newell capped an undefeated freshman season by downing Liberty’s Ashley Wao-Udin and Sina Gebrai, 6-2, 6-1.
“They enjoy each others’ company, and it helps them when on court because they’re comfortable to depend on one another,” Palo Verde coach Jane Centrella said. “I love their synergy, the way they turn to each other and talk while playing but focused, and the fact that they know each other well enough to where they won’t fight on the court or anything — they’re just a happy, good team together.”
They could hardly stop giggling during the post-match interview, as the two cracked inside jokes and focused more on their friendship than the fact that they had just won a state championship.
The Panther pair advanced to the final by topping Reno’s McCall Board and Katie Gardner, 7-6(4), 6-1 in the semifinals.