Midway through the second set of their Region I finals girls doubles match in Abilene Tuesday, Granbury’s Elizabeth Morton turned to partner Kate Bramlett.
“I said, we’re doing everything we can to NOT go to a third set, and she said ‘Absolutely,’” said Morton.
At the time, the Granbury duo were behind 4-2 after having won the first set 6-2.
The second-seeded duo then proceeded to win the next four games to dispose of top seeds Katy Foster and Leah Munroe of Brewer for a convincing 6-2, 6-4 triumph.
The victory qualified Bramlett and Morton for the 4A State Tournament in Austin April 29-30. They are believed to be the first Granbury participants at state since 1962 when Betty Degan won a Class 2A singles title.
“It still hasn’t hit me fully,” said Bramlett, who finally made it to state after two narrow misses the past two years as a freshman and sophomore.
As a freshman, she and brother James reached the regional final, lost, and then lost in a playback. Last year, she finished fourth, missing a chance for a playback.
“I thought about that finals match my freshman year and what my brother would have told me today,” said Bramlett. “Elizabeth told me the same he would have, to just dig down deep.”
And that is exactly what they did. Morton put away both the go-ahead shot and the match-winning shot, sending both flying past the highly regarded Foster.
“Nobody does that to Foster,” said Granbury coach Jeff Bramlett. “Most play away from her.
“They were going after Elizabeth, trying to keep it away from Kate, and Elizabeth made them pay for it.”
The loss was only the second of the season for Foster and Munroe, who slipped to 33-2. Both setbacks came against Bramlett and Morton, who improved to 19-2 playing together.
It was the third time Bramlett/Morton faced Foster/Munroe this season. They had split the first two meetings, with Foster/Munroe wining the most recent before Tuesday.
That, Morton said, was an aid in she and Bramlett winning the rubber match.
“We knew we could beat them, but we also knew they could beat us,” Morton, also a junior, said. “I think the fact that they beat us more recently than we beat them was actually a big help because it was still on our minds.”
While Bramlett and Morton are moving on to Austin, Foster and Munroe saw their dream come to an end later in the day. They lost a playback match to the unseeded duo of Megan Poe and Alex Rodriguez of Denton Guyer.
Poe and Rodriguez pushed Bramlett to three sets before bowing 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in the semifinals.
It was the only set the Granbury pair lost in the tournament.
“That was a huge statement. To win against this team in straight sets is extremely impressive,” said coach Bramlett.
“We totally reversed our strategy from previous times we played them. For these two (Bramlett and Morton) to adapt to that and win regionals is quite an amazing feat.”
While Bramlett and Morton took the first set with a convincing score, each of the games was close. Then, in the second set, things appeared to be nearing an even status after Foster and Munroe broke serve twice for the lead.
Had Bramlett and Morton lost in the finals, they would still have advanced, as fate would have it. Having already defeated Poe/Rodriguez, there would not have been a playback.
But at the time they did not know this, coach Bramlett said, and there was only one way to guarantee their trip to Austin. Besides, he added, they wanted to prove they were the best duo in Abilene.
“We had no intentions of playing a playback, and the only way to assure ourselves of that was to win the whole thing,” said coach Bramlett.
Granbury qualified a school-record seven competitors for the regional tournament. The girls doubles team of Alyssa Tigner and Megan Wright advanced to the second round, while Sophie Mullen lost in the first round of girls singles and the mixed doubles partners of Katey Singer and Joel Rodgers also fell in the first round.
Singer and Rodgers had not played together before the District 7-4A Tournament last week. Tigner and Wright were making a second straight regionals appearance.
District 7-4A has state qualifiers in three events. The Aledo boys doubles duo of Ryan Howell and Rob Raines won a playback, as did Arlington Heights’ Zan Rive in boys singles.
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Class 4A Region I Tennis Tournament
Kate Bramlett/Elizabeth Morton – Def. Vanessa/Maria Vasquez, Clint Horizon, 6-0, 6-0 in first round; defeated MacKenzie Dye/Kambrie Phillips, Canyon Randall, 6-1, 6-2 in quarterfinals; defeated Megan Poe/Alex Rodriguez, Denton Guyer, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in semifinals; defeated Katy Foster/Leah Munroe, Brewer, 6-2, 6-4 in finals.
Alyssa Tigner/Megan Wright – defeated Sarah Casado/Evan Duran, San Elizario, 7-5, 6-4 in first round; lost to Hannah Smith/Jenna Smith, Lubbock, 6-1, 6-0 in quarterfinals.
Sophie Mullen – Lost to Jennifer Houtchens, Richland, 6-3, 6-4 in first round.
Katey Singer/Joel Rodgers – Lost to Ashton Wunsch/Kyle Green, Trophy Club Nelson, 6-4, 6-2 in first round.