By Joshua Koch / Special Contributor
COLLEGE STATION — The last time a Dallas ISD player won a state tennis title, John F. Kennedy was president and gas was 31 cents a gallon.
A lot has changed since Hillcrest’s Lynn Haines hoisted the trophy in 1961, and on Tuesday, Hillcrest sophomore Anne Gilliam made history by claiming the Class 5A girls singles crown in her first state tournament appearance.
Victory didn’t come easily for Gilliam on Tuesday, considering Austin Vandegrift’s Tyler Duncum came close multiple times to winning the three-set title match.
“It feels really good. I’m just really proud of myself that I was able to do it, because I was down so much in that match,” Gilliam said. “Just feels really good to get the win.”
After splitting the first two sets, Duncum taking the first, 6-1 and Gilliam winning the second, 6-2, an entire season came down to a final third set.
Duncum rolled to a commanding 5-1 lead, putting Gilliam one game away from being handed a silver medal instead of a gold one.
“She never gave up,” Hillcrest coach Diana Davis said. “She fought tooth-and-nail all the way through. She refused to lose.”
Gilliam won five straight games to take a 6-5 lead, and the final set eventually went to a tiebreaker.
“It was nerve-wracking but I kept my composure and I just kept playing,” Gilliam said.
Eventually Gilliam pulled away to lead 6-3 before Duncam pulled within 6-5. On the next point, after a long volley, Gilliam watched Duncum’s shot sail past the baseline, and it was over.
“It feels good being so young in high school,” Gilliam said. “I’m a sophomore and I hope I get the chance to do it again my junior and senior year.”
Gilliam won her first two matches in straight sets, including a 6-0 opening set in both the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Hillcrest junior Zane Kohrs competed in boys singles, but lost to eventual state champion Angel Palacios of Everman in straight sets in the quarterfinals.