Wilson rises to top of girls' ladder

May 20, 2011

By Robert Stocks       

WINCHESTER- After finishing as the Northwestern District runner-up in singles a season ago, Headley Wilson felt like she still had something to prove.

And after going unbeaten in district play, the James Wood senior standout certainly got the validation she was striving for in Thursday's championship match at Millbrook.

Wilson capped her perfect year in the district with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Sherando junior Sarah Wolfe to claim her first district singles championship.

"You work so hard for it, and to finally grasp on to it and be able to say you're the district champion in singles is definitely something that I could never dream of," said Wilson, who went 11-0 in district singles play, including the tournament. "I got the district title in doubles [as a sophomore] but it's just not as good, and you want that singles win. I think I've proved that I can play doubles and singles." A district and Region II singles finalist last year, Wilson dropped Thursday's opening game but then reeled off six straight to take the first set.

She won three more games in the second set before Wolfe broke her serve to cut it to 3-1. From there, Wilson won three more games to clinch the match.

Wolfe - who was seeded third and upset No. 2 Jessie Nolan of Handley in the semifinals - said Wilson made it difficult for her to string points together.

"She had her 'A' game today, so she was playing really well," Wolfe said. "It was hard to hit a good shot, and I didn't have the best day out here, but she played amazing today.

"She just set up points really well and could execute, and I wasn't able to do that today, so I had trouble."

Coming off a 16-5 season a year ago - with three of her five losses against Northwestern District champion Sarah Moomau - Wilson said it was special to finally win the one district title that eluded her during her varsity career.

"I couldn't be any more happy. I mean, my whole family, and [teammate] Tarah [Wampler's] family and everyone is out there supporting me," Wilson said. "To just be able to get that final win, and go undefeated throughout the district is just really nice and something that I've really tried to move towards this year just as a personal goal."

Wilson teamed with Wampler in Thursday's doubles final, but Nolan and Kathryn Bock, of Handley, defeated them 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The Colonels' duo got off to a strong start, taking a 2-1 advantage in the first set before rain forced the match from Millbrook to the indoor courts at Winchester Country Club.

Wilson and Wampler kept their momentum going, taking the first set 6-1. But Nolan and Bock took the next two sets 6-3, 6-2 to claim the district doubles title.

Nolan (a sophomore) and Bock (a freshman) defeated Wilson and Wampler 10-4 during the regular season, but the young Judges needed to dig deep after dropping the opening set Thursday.

Nolan said she and Bock spent the first set figuring out a game plan.

"We mostly wanted to keep it away from both of them," Nolan said. "Tarah's amazing at the net, and Headley obviously is good everywhere. We wanted to pick on the baseline and hit a lot of angles."

"We also wanted to keep being aggressive and keep moving towards the net," added Bock.

Nolan and Bock really took momentum by surviving the seventh game of the second set, which went to deuce five times. Bock held serve in that pivotal game, putting the Judges ahead 5-2.

"It was a tough game, and they were putting up a good fight," Nolan said. "I think that once we got that game we were like, 'All right, we need to close this out and continue what we're doing.'"

Handley was in control from the start of the third set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Bock held serve in the sixth game to put the Judges within one game of clinching the match, but Wampler held serve in the next game.

With Nolan serving, the Judges closed out the match, capitalizing on two errant shots to go up 30-0. On match point, Wampler's return of Nolan's serve sailed out of bounds.

"I think the first set we played really well together," Wampler said. "I think we know what we need to work on for the next time, and hopefully we'll come across them again."

All of the district finalists advance to the Region II tournament, so there's a chance Wilson and Wampler could face Nolan and Bock again. The stakes are higher at regionals, with only the championship team advancing to the Group AA state tournament in Radford.

But, with Bock and Nolan both being underclassmen, a district doubles title admittedly wasn't something they were thinking about at the start of the season.

"I was not expecting this," Nolan said. "They put up a great fight and it was a hard match.

"We're just going to have fun [at regionals] and try our hardest. We both have a couple more years to do whatever we want."

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