The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference girls tennis season is grinding to a halt. The regular season is done, and the individual tournament will be completed on Wednesday.
During the final week of the regular season, Athens Drive, Apex, Cary and Holly Springs reflected on how the season went and their hopes for what’s ahead.
Apex: Senior Day for coach Lynn Thomas was especially rewarding as the Cougars played host to Holly Springs last Wednesday. Her team picked up an 8-1 victory, and her daughter Carla Thomas was one of the seniors who was honored.
Apex worked in all five of its seniors – No. 2 Carla Thomas, No. 5 Audrey Sung and No. 6 Emorie Estep in singles and Sanjna Iyegar and Betsy Albritton at No. 3 doubles.
“The team has practiced really well,” Lynn Thomas said. “Carla and (No. 1) Elizabeth (Johnson, a sophmore), have clicked more in their doubles play. (No. 4) Sydney Oyler is a junior now. She’s had a decent record, and she didn’t play in the top six at all in the past two years. So I’m really happy for her.”
Apex is in a familiar spot of hoping for a wildcard spot in next week’s team playoffs. If Apex earns a wild-card spot, they would play at either Clayton or East Chapel Hill.
“I’m hoping. I’m going to plan and submit my paperwork as though we’ll get a wildcard,” Thomas said.
Holly Springs: First-year coach Britney Smith, who is also the school’s softball coach, is hopeful for the future. The Golden Hawks have just two seniors – No. 3 Kimberly LaVacca and No. 4 Maddy Adams.
Two 5-4 losses to Fuquay-Varina showed the team just how close they were to moving up a spot in this year’s standings.
“They’re a great group of girls. Very coachable players. They listen to criticism and try to correct it. They’re very young as far as talent, but I’ve got a number of girls coming back who could be beneficial in the coming years, so I’m looking forward to it,” Smith said.
The Hawks’ lineup included No. 1 Stephanie Charlino, a sophomore, No. 2 Caroline Brammer, a junior, No. 5 Peyton Davis, a freshman, and No. 6 Makayla Goetsch, a sophomore.
“I’m hoping that we will build physically and mentally on this game and continue to grow,” Smith said.
Athens Drive: Athens Drive (10-7, 7-7) ended their season day in a familiar place – on the road. The Jaguars were displaced earlier in the season from their home courts to Pullen Park and Biltmore Park. They playing the rest of the games on the road in the latter half of the year.
“We had cracks, grass, patches missing. We need new courts, and I think they’re so far gone that there’s no chance of resurfacing,” first-year coach Lisa Smedley said.
Senior Day was held at Cary’s Dunham Park on Wednesday in a 7-2 win against Cary – the visiting team.
The Jaguars will graduate their top two players – Laksmi Sridhar and Greta Moser – as well as Leah Henry, who played No. 3 doubles. They, along with underclassmen junior No. 3 Anna Rain, sophomore No. 4 Katherine Clapp, sophomore No. 5 Kristen Smedley and freshman No. 6 Irena Brain, have helped the Jaguars leap up in the standings after a 3-11 season last year.
“I’ve seen the team get better,” coach Smedley said.
Cary: The Imps had their season come to a close on Wednesday with a 7-2 loss to Athens Drive. It was a familiar score, because even if Cary ended the year without a win, coach Janet Trotter’s No. 1 player was hard to beat.
Senior Supriya Narisetti had not played tennis in a year and a half due to a hip injury.
She made a triumphant return, losing just twice in singles play – to defending 4A champ Susanne Boyden of Wakefield and two-time doubles champ Sammi Smith of Panther Creek.
“She’s getting stronger and stronger and stronger,” Trotter said. “She’s definitely got a good chance of getting to the (SWAC) finals. With this conference, it’s just hard to know who’s going to singles and who’s going to doubles.”
Three of Cary’s seven players were completely new to the sport this year, and the lack of practice days was hard to overcome. Trotter said she is hopeful some new ideas being discussed – like a Western Wake Tennis Association high school league – come to fruition.
“We’re hoping to set a few things in motion and get some activities for these kids outside of the season to get them playing,” Trotter said. “Getting court space is difficult because we don’t have any on-campus courts, and just getting tennis players on this side of town, we’re experiencing that as an issue.”
Andrea Padilla, Talya Ali and Pakari Boykin rounded out Cary’s top four. Jennifer Flippin, Amanda DeMarte and Lindsey Hall rotated at Nos. 5 and 6.
“I have to give them credit,” Trotter said. “They’ve kept their spirits up, they’ve been cheerful, they’ve worked hard and they’ve really given it their all and it’s nice to see.”