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Auburn’s Julia Wagner stays patient in marathon final, wins Section III State Qualifier Tournament

October 21, 2016 GMT

SYRACUSE — Julia Wagner knew she had to be patient.

The Auburn senior has overpowered players all season, but sensed her opponent in the finals of the Section III Girls Tennis State Qualifier Tournament would make the match a marathon with long rallies. Wagner stuck to her game plan and outlasted New Hartford’s Sarah Corasanti 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 in a grueling three-hour contest at the Drumlins Tennis Club in Syracuse Thursday.

“Naturally I like to strike the ball, but with Sarah, she just gets everything back,” Wagner said. “A lot of it was trying to stay calm, stay back and not try to overpower her. I had to keep the ball in play and eventually get the shot you’re looking for to take the point.”

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Wagner won the doubles state qualifier title with Lauryn Husby last season after being the runner-up in singles competition the two previous seasons. Although she has qualified for states three previous times, Wagner was happy to finally win the state qualifier singles title.

“In the second or third set, my leg started to cramp up and it felt like I couldn’t move at one point,” Wagner said. “It was such a fun match and I respect her so much. ... Even though she made me work for every point and it was a battle, it was still so much fun to play.”

After defeating Christian Brothers Academy’s Grace Delpino in the semifinals (6-0, 6-1), Wagner took a 4-1 lead in the championship match against Corasanti. The New Hartford player came back to tie the score at 5-5, but Wagner won the tiebreaker after it went 6-6 by a 7-4 margin.

“Since Sarah is so athletic, she gets everything back,” Auburn coach Shelly Connors said. “You can’t expect to hit three shots and the fourth one is going to be a winner because she gets to them all. ... Julia needed a ton of patience, because what would normally be a winner on most people is not a winner on Sarah.”

Corasanti led through most of the second set, and held on despite Wagner cutting her lead to 5-4. Visibly frustrated, Wagner knew she had to refocus on being patient in the third set.

“I think a little bit of that was fatigue,” Wagner said. “I started to overpower things and I was overthinking. I think a lot of it was trying to keep focused, keep a positive attitude and fight for everything. She wasn’t giving me anything, so I had to dig and fight for every single shot.”

Down 3-2 in the third with an opportunity for a visit with Connors, Wagner gave the ‘All good’ sign and the coach returned to the sideline.

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“That becomes more mental than physical there,” Connors said. “That’s getting yourself to dig deep and finish what you started. That’s a mental match. They were compatible and evenly matched.”

Wagner tied the score at 4-4, took the next point and closed out the match with a 6-4 victory in the third set.

“Once I hit 4-all and it was my serve, I was like ‘Just close it out here’ and I started to pick up momentum,” Wagner said. “I gave everything I had left in my body. I can honestly say I left everything out on the court today.”

Wagner moves on to compete in the New York Public High School Athletic Association championships at the Sound Shore Indoor Tennis facility in Port Chester on Oct. 29.

“From this point on, everything is icing on the cake,” Wagner said. “My goal is to get past the first round. I’m going in there with an open mind and I’m grateful to be going back for a fourth time.”