ROME — The best season in Mount Paran Christian girls tennis history ended one win short of a state championship.
The Lady Eagles fell to First Presbyterian Day 3-2 on Saturday in the Class A Private championship at the Rome Tennis Center.
It was the first time Mount Paran had reached the championship match, and the next step in the program’s growth. In 2019, the Lady Eagles made it to the semifinals, following consecutive quarterfinal appearances. There were no state playoffs in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mount Paran was forced to rely on its singles play after First Presbyterian Day won both doubles matches by identical 6-1, 6-0 scores, and the Lady Eagles nearly pulled it out.
While Mount Paran’s Emma Brogan and Emma Bethel each won in three sets at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, Isabella Garofalo — the deciding factor in a pair of 3-2 playoff wins over George Walton and Wesleyan — came up short at No. 3 singles, falling 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to Natalie Griffin.
“She has been an all-around player for us all four years — always consistent,” Mount Paran coach Caroline Bradford said of Garofalo. “She is always somebody you can rely on, so, if it was going to come down to anybody, I’m glad it came down to her. Unfortunately, it went the other way (Saturday).”
Mount Paran, which entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed out of its region, won a pair of 3-2 decisions over the favored George Walton and Wesleyan, en route to the championship match.
When First Presbyterian Day won both of its doubles matches, Garofalo was down 6-2, 3-0 and two service breaks. Instead of going out quietly, she fought back to win four straight games and eventually the set to keep the Lady Eagles’ chances alive.
After battling in the third, Garofalo found herself down a break at 5-4 before Griffin served out the match.
Brogan, who overcame an early-season wrist injury, rallied to beat Kennedi Jones 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, while Bethel won 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 over Yvonne Shannon at No. 2.