The Darling Tennis Center will never be mistaken for Hawaii or the Bahamas.
Yet, those tourist hotspots are exactly where Bishop Gorman juniors Taylor Larreau and Morgan Matley pictured themselves during their second-round match Friday morning.
About an hour later, the Gaels found their own paradise.
Larreau and Matley squandered a 3-0 lead, then battled back from a 4-3 deficit to post a 6-4 second-round win over Palo Verde’s Megan Randazzo and Sarah Sanders to tie the match.
Gorman maintained the momentum on its way to a 10-8 victory over the Panthers in the Class 4A girls state final at Darling Tennis Center. Gorman (14-1) won its sixth state crown in seven years and its 17th overall.
“This means everything,” coach Gordon Hammond said. “We weren’t sure we were going to do it. This is huge. It’s so much more precious this year.”
With the Gaels trying to recover from a 4-2 deficit after the first round, Larreau and Matley looked frustrated after Randazzo and Sanders rattled off four straight games.
“Our coach told us to just picture ourselves being somewhere else. It worked,” said Larreau, who envisioned Hawaii. Matley opted for the Bahamas.
Picturing themselves on a tropical beach, playing tennis for fun was the perfect remedy.
“I told them we just needed to go somewhere else,” Hammond said. “Everyone was so tight because everybody was thinking about being at state. We just needed to picture ourselves being somewhere else, being happy, playing on the beach. Their minds went somewhere else, and they just started playing tennis.”
The duo won the final three games to even the team score at 6-all through two rounds, and Gorman won four of the six third-round matches to claim the title.
“This is what we worked all year for,” Matley said.
Sarah Bessen and Erica Silvestri, who went 3-0 in doubles, secured the clinching 10th point.
Kelsey McMillan, who usually plays doubles but essentially traded places with Bessen to try to balance Gorman’s lineup, also won a key third-round match.
Larreau and Matley went 2-1 in doubles, and Brooke Swallow and Chelsea Crovetti each were 2-1 in singles.
Victoire Saperstein went 3-0 in singles, and the doubles team of Jade Powell and Michaela Jackson was 2-1 for Palo Verde (14-2), which was bidding for its first state title since 2004.
“We have a lot of young kids,” coach Jane Centrella said. “We’ll come back even stronger next year.”