NWD Girls' Tennis Semifinals: 5-4 win sends Warriors to regionals

May 13, 2011

By Robert Stocks
The Winchester Star       

STEPHENS CITY- Sherando and James Wood split six singles matches and then split the first two doubles matches in Thursday's Northwestern District tournament semifinal match.

That put all eyes on the third and final set of the No. 3 doubles match between Sherando's Katelyn Schell and Kelly Schrader and James Wood's Holly Landes and Rachel Sours.

Landes and Sours took the opening set 7-5, but Schell and Schrader rallied to win the next two 6-4, 6-1, clinching a hard-fought 5-4 victory over James Wood.

The win gives Sherando (10-5) a berth in the Region II tournament, and the Warriors face top-seeded Handley, a 5-1 winner over Millbrook in Thursday's other semifinal match, in today's tournament championship at 3 p.m. at Handley.

After dropping the opening set, Schrader and Schell never trailed in the second and third set. And neither one said she got too caught up in all of the attention with the rest of their teammates and the crowd focusing on their final match.

"I didn't really pay attention to everyone, even though it was hard, because they were yelling," Schell said. "It was just about paying attention and being confident through the whole entire thing." Schrader and Schell beat Sours and Landes 10-2 in one of their matches during the regular season, but Schrader said the Colonels switched tactics a bit Thursday.

"They definitely changed their strategy putting [Sours] up front," Schrader said. [She was] just running back and forth and hitting everything. I definitely felt pressured, but I liked that everyone was cheering for us."

Following match point, Schrader and Schell were mobbed on the court by the rest of their teammates.

"It's the most amazing moment I've had in high school tennis," said Sherando's top-seeded junior Sarah Wolfe. "We still have our [district] final, but to know we're going to regionals as a team is an amazing feeling. I'm the happiest captain right now. I couldn't be more proud of the girls. They played amazing."

And the Warriors pulled through on the strength of the bottom half of their top six.

Schrader defeated Sours 6-2, 6-3 at No. 6 singles, and Schell won 6-3, 6-3 over Landes at No. 5. Aly Myers' 6-4, 6-3 victory over Emily Purnell at No. 4 knotted the match 3-3 heading into doubles.

Sherando's No. 2 doubles team of Emmy Bossung and Lexi Aulabaugh won the first set against the Colonels' team of Fae Schweitzer and Purnell in a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-5). In the second set, Bossung and Aulabaugh overcame a 4-3 deficit to rally for a 6-4 win.

"We were down early, but we have so much confidence in our team and [Lexi and I] played together the whole season," Bossung said. "We were like, 'We got this.'"

Even though Bossung and her teammates had confidence, the Colonels' top three seeds - Headley Wilson (No. 1), Tarah Wampler (No. 2), and Schweitzer (No. 3) - all won matches. Wilson defeated Wolfe 6-1, 6-1, and Wampler won 6-2, 6-2 over Bossung.

Schweitzer's 6-3, 6-2 win over Aulabaugh gave the Colonels (5-12) three relatively quick wins in singles.

Wilson and Wampler, the defending Region II doubles champions, gave the Colonels their lone doubles victory, defeating Wolfe and Myers 6-2, 6-2.

"I can't say anymore than I'm 100 percent proud of the girls," first-year James Wood coach Sharon Sweet said. "To come in here against the No. 2 seed and fight for it is all I can ask. We came in and gave them a fight for it."

Sherando's girls took the court after watching the Warrior boys need about 45 minutes to defeat Millbrook 5-0.

It took the girls a lot longer, but their win was just as satisfying, because they can also say that they're regional qualifiers.

"I think we're all really happy because I think it's been a while since we've been to regionals," Aulabaugh said. "I think our school is starting to realize that we have a [girls'] tennis team."

 

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