The Canfield girls won the Division I state doubles title at Ohio State.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Canfield High tennis coach Pat Pavlansky could hear the whispers around the Stickney Tennis Center in Columbus.
"Hey, who are those girls?"
Why, of course, they're Canfield juniors Rachel McGowan and Renee Lesnett. No one will need to ask anymore.
McGowan and Lesnett completed an impressive tournament run Saturday by winning the Division I state doubles title at Ohio State University.
"It's something we've been working for, for so long," McGowan said. "It was like a dream. When it came true, we were just speechless."
Pavlansky added, "I still don't think the girls believe it."
Canfield defeated Richfield Revere's Sam Danesis and Carly Newman 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 for the state title, which is believed to be the Mahoning Valley's first in girls tennis.
"I told them to hang onto their medals," Pavlansky said, "because they're going to show them to their grand-kids someday."
McGowan and Lesnett went to Columbus with state singles experience. McGowan qualified last year, while Lesnett advanced as a freshman and sophomore. That proved beneficial this weekend in their state doubles debut.
"It made a big difference," McGowan admitted. "We knew what to expect, what the routine was."
But they had never gotten past the first round until Friday, when they defeated teams from West Chester Lakota West and Upper Arlington, both 6-1, 6-0.
"They played well in the first match and even better in the second match," Pavlansky said. "But [Saturday] was a new thing for them because we've never been to the state semifinals and we were pretty nervous."
Canfield defeated Cincinnati Turpin 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to advance against Revere, which it also defeated for the district title in Cleveland.
In the state championship match, the Cardinals lost the first set, 6-2.
"We had some trouble at first," Lesnett said. "We just kept thinking of our goal and we kept fighting for that goal."
Pavlansky added, "Not a lot of teams take a 6-2 pounding in that first set and come back to win."
But not a lot of teams own championship medals. McGowan and Lesnett do.
"When we started practicing, Pat always told us, 'You can win state.' We're like, 'Yeah, right,' " McGowan said. "But every time we got on the court, we seemed to get better."
Now, they're the best.