LAKEWOOD RANCH — Huddled together on a park bench, Out-of-Door Academy freshmen Maria Ross and Mary Ann Rompf quietly sang the lyrics to some of their favorite songs, including Lorde’s “Tennis Court.”
It was only fitting that on the final day of the FHSAA Class 1A tennis championships April 18, Ross and Rompf were the epitome of cool, calm and collected.
The two already had captured the individual doubles state championship, along with Ross’ individual singles and overall singles state titles, and were hoping to claim ODA’s first overall doubles state title.
Ross and Rompf overcame a second-set slide to win the overall doubles title, defeating Ransom Everglades’ Allegra Hanlon and Daniela Lopez 6-3, 3-6, 10-8.
It was the perfect end to a tournament that included winning four state titles and celebrating Ross’ 15th birthday.
“It was a great experience,” Ross says. “I think I played well throughout the entire tournament. I was just happy I was able to do so well.
“After I won singles there was less pressure, and I was really driven to get that doubles title,” Ross says. “Winning doubles was (special) because I was able to share it. Everything was for the team. There’s nothing that means more than that.”
Ross and Rompf came together for the first time last fall after Kompf moved to Lakewood Ranch from Rhode Island. The two, who briefly trained together, finished sixth in their first doubles tournament.
Ross and Rompf continued to play together at ODA, competing in 13 matches en route to winning district titles at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles.
“It was really exciting being part of such a good team,” Rompf says. “The whole tournament was a really fun experience, and we all got a lot closer.”
Ross and Rompf became only the second pair to win an individual doubles state title at ODA and the first to win an overall doubles state title.
“They are an exceptional doubles team — one of the best, if not the best I’ve ever had at ODA,” coach Noel Dougherty says. “Maria has beautiful strokes, and then there’s Mary Ann, who, when she gets on a doubles court, she just lights up and takes control. It’s exciting to watch.
“They are exceptional singles players, but they have the knowledge to drive a doubles court,” Dougherty says.
Following their state championship run, Ross and Rompf returned to the court in the USTA Florida Level 5 Lee County CTA Boys and Girls 16s designated tournament April 26 and April 27, in Fort Myers.
Ross advanced to the Round of 32 in the singles tournament, before teaming up with Rompf in the doubles tournament where they fell 9-7 in the Round of 16.
“We were just looking for some good competition,” Ross says. “There’s always room for improvement.”
The two are somewhat of a rarity on the junior tennis circuit, having played together on more than one occasion.
“Most of the time it’s just a close friend from practice that you get together and play with,” Ross says. “Very few times do you actually play with someone you’ve practiced with before.”
“They don’t put a lot of emphasis on doubles in junior tennis,” Rompf says. “Staying with one partner is really important, though, because you know what one another is going to do in certain situations and your partner can react to it.”
Ross and Rompf will continue playing together on the junior tennis circuit throughout the summer and fall before teaming up again to defend their state titles next spring.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
* This story was modified May 2, 2014.