Daugherty's State Quarterfinal match was an early Monday one with Jeffery Chen, a talented player from Fort Bend Dulles. Working through nerves and heat-induced cramping, he fought his way through the match and came out on top 5-7, 7-6 and 7-5.
"I have played him a few times recently," said Daugherty. "The results had been split, so I counted on a tough match. In the beginning I built up a lead. Then the situation just dawned on me. I realized where I was. I don't know if it was just nerves."
"Jacob had done well at regionals and it was a new experience for him," said Belton tennis coach Kyle Larson. "He has some nerves, but played through it. He started off pretty strong and played well. The other kid picked up his game. Chen isn't a kid who is going to burn any wind past you. He's quick and gets to every ball. He was going to let Jacob make mistakes. The match sort of drawn out a bit. Overall, the better player prevailed in that one."
All the competitors had to deal with the hot weather in the Austin area. Daugherty was certainly no different.
"It was definitely hotter than I have played in this year," Daugherty said. "With an extremely long, tiring match near the end, I started to cramp. I was starting to feel the effects of the heat in the match. But the heat was the same for him as it was for me."
"Jacob is very meticulous with his points," said Larson. "With Chen's speed and getting to every ball, it did lead to a long match. In that third set, he started cramping up. It was the first significant heat he had played in since the fall season. He felt like if he squatted he may not be able to get back up because of cramping up. He was just trying to get the points in the right spots and get four points in a row."
The State Semifinal match was against Miguel Alda of Round Rock Westwood. Alda, a nationally Top 50-ranked opponent. Daugherty was equal to the task, despite a line of thunderstorms that ripped through the Austin area creating a delay. Hanging with Alda for much of the match, Daugherty eventually went down to Alda 1-6, 7-5 and 7-6, settling for a third place medal in the competition. Alda went on to defeat A&M Consolidated's Frankie Colunga 2-6, 6-4 and 6-4 for the Class 5A State Championship.
"I knew coming in it was going to be difficult going up against Alda," said Daugherty. "It was going to be a very difficult match. So I went out there with an open mind and tried not to think about his ranking or his past result. We were supposed to start at 1:30 and ended up starting hours after that. I had more time to think about it and process the situation. It was a close match match, with a few points here or there that could have gave me the set. It turned out differently. I felt like it was a hard-played match and I played very well."
"Getting to state was a big goal for Jacob," said Larson. "District was one goal. He wanted to win district and then he went to regionals. He won regionals and now he goes to state. As he progressed, the goals kept changing. Coming into state, he said he wanted to win the State Quarterfinal and not drive an hour to Austin and be a one-and-done kind of guy. I think the nerves calmed a bit, but Miguel played well and won the whole thing. Alda is Top 50 in the nation and in top two or three in the state. He's 18 years old, going to Columbia University to play tennis for them."
During the weather delay, Alda and Daugherty were being treated at the same time in the training room. Larson knew at that time, a long match was ahead for these two young competitors.
"Both of them were having cramping issues," said Larson. "I think Jacob started off calm. Miguel won a few games and Jacob found a groove. He started playing really well. Part of the issue throughout the day was the lightning delays. And then dealing with cramping issues, it made for an interesting day."
But the ever resilient Daugherty just kept on charging, giving Alda all he wanted.
"During the third set, he must have gone back to deuce three or four times during the set," Larson said. "And in the middle of the set, we received the call to clear the court because of the lightning delay. He had to come back out and try to win two points on serve. He lost the first point and double-faulted the next, so he's down 6-5 with Miguel serving for the match. Miguel played well and Jacob played awesome."