Sanderson was at the top of the Cap-8 Conference – and still is – but Brianna Taranto knew she wanted to avoid the sweep against the Spartans.
The Millbrook freshman is new to the competitive league, the rivalries and the Wildcats, but she is not new to tennis.
Taranto, the Wildcats’ No. 1 seed, said she’s been playing since she was 7.
Against Sanderson, she was familiar with her No. 1 matchup Sibel Tanik, who is also a freshman.
“In tournaments, I play Sibel a lot,” Taranto said.
Her lone court was the only win for Millbrook on Sept. 10. The Wildcats played Enloe on Tuesday, and Taranto and doubles partner Shea Cirillo helped squeeze out a 5-4 win.
“When we were younger, in every tournament, we (Sibel and I) ended up playing each other. We’d go back-to-back. She would win, then I would win. I used to train with her, too, so I knew her weaknesses.
“Even if no one else won, we couldn’t go down 9-0.”
The Wildcats fell to an undefeated Sanderson team 8-1 that day before claiming the victory against Enloe.
Taranto’s older sister, Savannah, in a way, influenced her to play tennis.
“I was jealous of my sister because she got to go all these places and stay in hotels,” Taranto said. “I really liked hotels. And I always knew I had to be better than her at something. That was my goal.”
Savannah Taranto graduated from Millbrook in 2015 and now plays tennis at Western Carolina University.
But Brianna Taranto said she’s taken a word or two of her sister’s advice in order to rise to the top spot as a freshman.
Taranto grew up playing with several of her now high school competitors, but only her sister can give her “hints about the teams, about how to connect with people and how to even in practice show your full potential,” Taranto said.
As a young player, she already understands that “you have to come out fighting” at Cap-8 matches. She cited her speed and serves as strengths.
“That’s what I’m know for: getting everything back,” Taranto said. “It annoys people because they don’t think I’ll get it back. They’ll miss because they don’t think I’ll get it back.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Midtown Athlete of the Week
Name: Brianna Taranto
Hometown: Long Island, N.Y.
Fun fact: Her favorite professional tennis player is Serena Williams.