Meghan Burns' legs were hurting, but that's not why she was crying.
She wept tears of joy after overcoming an injury as well as a one-set deficit to score the decisive team point for Haddonfield in a 3-2 victory over Westfield in the Oct. 28 Tournament of Champions final.
Burns' 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Westfield's Tara Crisuolo took more than three hours and capped the Bulldogs' perfect season.
It left Burns collapsed on the court at the Inman Tennis Center in Edison, and veteran coach Jeff Holman shaking his head in wonder.
That's why it is the girls' tennis match of the year.
"I don't recall ever seeing a gutsier performance, especially on such a momentous occasion," Holman said.
Burns, a junior who went 31-4 at second singles this season, said she was determined to help her team.
"I know I didn't want to give up," Burns said. "Looking back, maybe it shouldn't have been that hard for me, but I felt like it was at the time."
Holman said all season that Burns' improvement was one of the keys to Haddonfield's emergence as a team that could rise to No. 1 in the state. The coach figures Burns' play in the T of C finals was a fitting end to her breakthrough season.
"Meghan has been preparing for that Tournament of Champions finals match throughout her life," Holman said. "All the little extras she has committed herself to in the pursuit of improvement paid off in that final match."