RANDOLPH _ Villa Walsh's Jamie Campisi typically thrives under pressure.
So, when Campisi's game began coming apart late in the second set of the Morris County Tournament final, Campisi figured she'd dig deep, right herself and be OK.
"I'm usually like 'Bring it on,'" Campisi said.
But Campisi continued to struggle - in a big way. Tied at 5-5 in the second set, she hoped to break Montville's Kirstin Godau, hold serve and close out the match. Instead, she netted three service returns, helping Godau go up, 6-5. Ultimately, it would go to a tiebreaker and Godau would take the set.
In the third set, Campisi regained control and emerged a 6-1, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 victor over Godau, a junior, to take the first singles title at the Morris County Tennis Tournament on Sunday, Sept. 30.
"Today was very, very interesting," Campisi said. "I'm usually better with pressure but, this time, it was hurting me. I could see the finish line at 4-2 and 5-4 in the second set. It was pretty crazy."
Double faults also hurt Campisi, a senior, in the second set. She rarely commits double faults so, naturally, she became rattled.
Godau was able to take the second set by hitting winner after winner.
"That was a testament to how great Kirstin is," Campisi said. "After the first set, she had nothing to lose. She was consistent. Kirstin didn't hit any errors. All of her shots worked and I became impatient."
At 6-6, it began to rain heavily and play was switched from the County College of Morris courts to the ones at Brundage Park.
"That was a momentum killer," said Campisi of the change in venue. "I had to look at the third set as a fresh start. If I played my game, I could win the match."
In the third set, it was tied, 2-2. Just like that, Campisi returned to normal and played like she did early on. Her groundstrokes were crisp and her serve was on.
It was the first MCT championship of Campisi's high school career. Highly regarded since her freshman year, Campisi was top-seeded as a sophomore but was beaten by Pequannock's Caroline Greydak in the 2010 final.
She played only two matches as a sophomore before breaking her left wrist. The injury caused her to miss the rest of the season.
That's why winning meant so much.
"An MCT title was always my goal," said Campisi, who will attend Lehigh, where she will pursue a degree in journalism. "I always wanted this."
In the offseason, she improved her game by developing a slice and a drop shot.
Montville's Kaitlin Sanzone prevailed over Mendham's Tara Buchney at second singles, 6-3, 6-2.
Sanzone was thrilled by the result because she's already been a semifinalist and runner-up. As a freshman, she lost in the second singles final. In 2011, Sanzone made it to the semis at first singles.
"I've never won so I'm excited," Sanzone said. "Having my teammates out on the court at the same time helped. We were all pumped and cheered each other on."
Sanzone felt her mental game was strong. She wanted to be more aggressive than Buchney, who captured the MCT third singles crown a year ago.
At the time of the downpour, Sanzone, a junior, was leading 3-0 in the second set. She didn't mind finishing up at Brundage Park.
"I just tried to stay strong," she said. "It was a little windier here. I adjusted. I made less unforced errors. I had to play smart."
Katie Gutknecht of Mendham overtook Montville freshman Erin Sanzone, 6-0, 6-4, at third singles. Gutknecht and the Minutemen's second doubles team finished at about the same time, ensuring that Mendham would lock up top team honors.
"This was unbelievable for me," Gutknecht said.
Around her neck, Gutknecht wore her good luck charm, her father's Army ring. In her head was advice from her dad, Joseph.
"I think about what he says and repeat it in my head," Gutknecht said. "It helps me. He told me 'Just stay cool. Keep it calm and work for every point.'"
Mendham coach Ed Chando has high regard for Gutknecht.
"Katie is absolutely one of the best in the state," Chando said.
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