With the fate of the Andover High girls tennis team on her shoulders, Karena Yan erased the pain from her mind.
Yan gritted through cramps to win No. 2 singles, the deciding match to earn the Golden Warriors a berth in the Division 1 state final with a 3-2 semifinal victory over Barnstable on Sunday.
The team was scheduled to take the court for the Division 1 state finals against St. John’s Shrewsbury on Wednesday night after the Townsman had gone to press.
With Andover and fellow unbeaten Barnstable deadlocked at 2-2, Yan won the deciding match over Maggie Pedicini 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-2.
Yan had second-year Warriors coach Alan Hibino to thank for helping her through the cramps so she could lead Andover into the finals.
Hibino had been reading about NBA star LeBron James and had learned his cramps don’t come from a lack of fluid, but from salt loss.
“I took a Gatorade, put three teaspoons of salt in it and that’s what Yan was drinking, grimacing every sip of the way because it tasted terrible,” Hibino said. “But honestly, if I wasn’t reading about that all with LeBron, I would have had just no idea.”
Hibino added, “She’s as tough as nails.”
Yan wouldn’t have gotten the chance to be the hero if it had not been for No. 1 singles player Samantha Camilo — aka King Comeback Camilo.
Flashback to the Division 1 North finals on June 4 where Camilo, a senior, was down 2-5 in the second set and facing match point against Westford.
Camilo rallied against talented Westford freshman Clare Yu 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) to earn the undefeated Golden Warriors their spot in the state semifinals.
“Samantha was down 2-5 in the second set facing match point,” Hibino said. “Then in the third set Sam was up 5-1. It’s never easy.”
It was the same story Sunday when Camilo was facing Barnstable’s Lauren Persson, who was ahead in the final set 6-5, with a 40-15 lead and match point right there for the taking.