The girls tennis team maintained their flawless 12-0 record in their recent match against Liberty in the first bout of the Conference 22 Tournament. Bolstered by a strong roster, the team has persevered despite match cancellations and the occasional knee injury.
According to coach Robert Deavers, the team’s advantage lies in its balanced composition.
“We’re very strong all through. A lot of teams are what we like to call ‘top heavy,’” Deavers said. “Their one, two, and three [players] are very strong, but then you see a weak falloff. We’re strong one through six. Even our seven, eight, and nine, if they were at another school, they’d probably be in the top six. We have such a big group of talent; that’s what helps us win all of our matches and keeps us strong.”
Inclement weather has prevented the team from practicing, and has lead to the cancellation of three games, postponing matches against Freedom, Culpepper, and Eastern View.
“We haven’t been able to practice since, like, two weeks ago. [The rain] has taken away some of our edge and we’re rusty, but we’re fighting through it,” junior Kelly Violett said. “The girls are really tough and resilient.”
Moreover, the rain has affected the seeding of the Conference 22 tournament.
“Normally the true winner of the conference gets the automatic bid to regionals, but we’ve had to pool that, and it’s going to be whoever finishes first and second in the conference tournament goes to regionals,” Deavers said.
Weather permitting, the team will play Freedom in the second round of the tournament on Friday.
“Our last game against [Freedom] was close; it was 5-4,” Co-captain junior Rachel Crawford said. “But everyone has grown since then, so I think we’ll be fine.”
Crawford lauds the team’s skill and dedication.
“We have a very strong team this year, a little stronger than last year. The girls come out every day ready to play,” Crawford said. “Everyone has a lot of power to their stroke. We’ve played a lot of games in a row which I think builds the girls’ confidence, especially when they win.”
Crawford’s personal goals for the season involve rebuilding and supporting the team’s future growth in addition to improving her own skills.
“In two years, I’m going to be gone, so hopefully we can build the team strong for when all the juniors and seniors have left because we have a very young team this year,” Crawford said. “I was surprised at the amount of freshmen that tried out this year, and all of them are very strong; half of our top six are freshmen players. It’s really nice to see all these players coming out and having such incredible skill.”
Violett said the team’s competitive mindset provides an edge, and she is confident about their continued success.
“We definitely will win conference and go to regionals,” Violett said. “We’ll play our hardest and stay mentally and physically strong. We haven’t lost yet, and we don’t plan to.”
~lana heltzel, editor-in-chief