CHARLESTON - Oak Glen's Madison Juszczak and Weir's Barbie Sulimanova certainly traveled a lot of miles to meet for the third time.
The pair faced each other for the West Virginia Class AA-A No. 2 singles title at the state tennis tournament.
The results were much the same as Juszczak, a sophomore, won her second straight tennis title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Sulimanova, a junior exchange-student from Slovakia, in the AA-A No. 2 singles title match.
Juszczak was the No. 4 state champion last season, and also has been on two volleyball state championship teams at Oak Glen.
"I've been pretty blessed," Juszczak said of her run of state championship success. "I feel like I earned it. I came in here with the mindset that I was not going to let losing be an option."
Her mantra was simple: Think like a champion.
She was able to gain some early traction when she broke Sulimanova's serve.
"My serve was on, and that was the biggest factor for me," Juszczak said. "When I was able to break her serve I gained a lot of confidence."
Sulimanova said she simply made too many mistakes to win.
"She is a great champion, and she knows what it was like to be here and it was new to me," she said. "I made a lot of mistakes, and that really was the difference. You can't make that many errors playing against this competition. She is a very good player though. I did my best."
Juszczak said the No. 2 singles championship will go with her other growing collection of state titles, with the same meaning.
"I do find it funny that we traveled all these hundreds of miles to play this match against each other, but I am very proud to have won it," she sad. "Anytime you make it this far it is a huge accomplishment. The competition was a lot better at No. 2 but I just made it my goal to get down here and to not let losing be an option."
For the first time in school history, Madonna played in three state championship matches with four players taking part.
That all three teams lost - boys No. 4 Allen Alimario fell to Charleston Catholic's Joe Kelly 6-0, 6-3; girls No. 4 Morgan Duerr fell to Parkersburg Catholic's Jullie Wiseman 7-5, 6-0 and the boys No. 3 doubles team of Ryan Watts and Cole Roberts lost to Bridgeport's Ben and Emery Smith 6-3, 6-0.
"Absolutely it was a great season," coach Kelly Sinsigalli said. "To come home with three state runnerup trophies for four kids is just an absolutely huge accomplishment. We are really excited."
Alimario agreed, after his match went final.
"It was my first time here, and it is a first time for our school to make it to a championship," Alimario said. "It's disappointing. but I also exceeded my expectations. For us to have the opportunity to play in three championships is something we won't forget."