MASON — Wilmington’s Claire Burns will have to wait a bit longer to earn a berth to the state tennis tournament.
Playing Thursday in the Division I Southwest District Girls Tennis Championship, Burns’ second-round match was suspended by rain and will resume 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Burns led Rashi Loni of Mason 2-6, 6-3, 4-1 when played was halted.
“This simply pauses the momentum Claire had gathered throughout the second and third sets,” WHS coach Doug Cooper said.
Wilmington has never had a girls tennis player reach the state tournament. Several girls, notably Lyn Brooks Manos and Marie Matrka, may have been good enough to do so, but played on the boys tennis team in the spring.
Burns opened with an impressive, workmanlike win over Kathleen Davin of St. Ursula Academy. With a variety of winners, Burns improved to 27-3 on the year.
Then came Loni, the No. 3 singles player on Mason’s juggernaut team that has won four consecutive state team tennis championships. The winner of this match would earn a berth to next week’s state tennis tournament.
Loni won the first set 6-2 and Burns looked out of sorts. Cooper was not overly concerned with Burns’ early deficit in her second match.
“Rashi Loni was the problem in the first set,” Cooper said. “Claire hit some balls in the first set that throughout the year are winners against 90 percent of her opponents.
“We talked at the set (break). Claire was saying the balls she was missing on weren’t out by a lot. She just had to find her timing. She had to find the pace her opponent was hitting the ball at.”
Once Burns zeroed in on Loni, it was lights out … almost.
“Her resilience,” said Cooper of Burns’ qualities on Thursday. “She plays relentless tennis. She didn’t get discouraged.”
And soon points and games were won. Burns broke Loni to open the second set. She held serve to lead 3-2 and seemed poised for a big run.
But Loni broke Burns to make it 3-3 and the Mason dynamo seemed to have righted her ship.
Burns relentless nature, though, almost willed her to three straight games and a 6-3 second set win.
Loni broke Burns to start the third set, but the WHS junior was undaunted and reeled off four straight games to grab a 4-1 lead. At 2-1, a light rain began to fall and it was apparent the weather was the only thing that was going to stop Burns on this day.
And it did right as Burns finished serving to take a 4-1 advantage.