Leary, Lindsay win thrilling tiebreaker to clinch state title for Lafayette

Published 5:25 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

Jake Leary and Porter Lindsay were in trouble.

The boys’ doubles pairing had jumped out to a 5-4 lead in the second set of their match against Brookhaven in the state championship, putting Lafayette on the brink of another state title after the Commodores and Panthers split the first six matches of the afternoon.

With a state title on the line, the duo choked away three straight games to drop the set and trigger a winner-take-all tiebreaker for the championship.

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Visibly shaken and needing a boost, Leary and Lindsay walked over to the bench where they met with head coach Debbie Swindoll and assistant coach Ryan Mounce.

The message was simple: relax.

“They were just tight,” Mounce said. “Tennis can be kind of lonely out there sometimes so we just wanted them to know they had the whole team backing them. They’ve got me, and Debbie, and Ashley and Will, I mean too many people to name… I just wanted them to feel that and give them a little boost.”

The message took a while to sink in. Leary and Lindsay fell behind 4-2 in the tiebreaker as they continued to make the same mistakes with the pressure mounting, but they knew they had one more run in them if they could simply buckle down and execute.

“We had started trying to rally with them and it just wasn’t working,” Leary said. “We just had to get to the net, put it in play, do it like we do every day in practice.”

With time quickly running out for a comeback the duo finally broke through, rattling off seven straight points to take a 9-4 lead in the tiebreaker and put the Panthers’ backs against the wall.

Brookhaven responded with back-to-back points of their own, climbing back to within three points as the supporters for both teams began to make their presence felt.

Needing one final play to secure the match, Lindsay stepped up and buried a devastating forehand past the Panther pairing to secure Lafayette’s fourth state title in the past five seasons and their first at Stone Park.

“This was my dream when I was trying to get these courts built,” Swindoll said while fighting off tears. “Having both schools play out here, and actually hosting the first state team championship and being a part of the winning team — I mean it’s a dream. It makes me tear up but it’s true.”

Swindoll said the added pressure of a deciding tiebreaker only made the moment more emotional as a blown lead in the other boys’ doubles match began to cast doubt on their title odds.

“When the boys’ match got tighter is when I got tight,” she said. “I wasn’t too worried because we were up a set and up a game but the closer that match got and then everything else is done and all I’m thinking is ‘oh my gosh I have two sophomores out there,’ but I just told them it’s a 10-point tiebreaker for the state championship and they didn’t bat an eye, they jumped right in it.”

The victory secured the fourth team state title for Lafayette in the past five seasons, continuing a run of dominance that started with the school’s first-ever state tennis championship in 2018.

The Commodores will look to add to their trophy case again before the week is done as they compete in the state individual tournament this week with a chance to add even more hardware to their collection.