Wake Forest and Heritage concluded their girls tennis dual-team seasons on Tuesday in a match that didn’t affect the Cap-8 Conference standings. Next year, it could be for a conference title.
The Cougars and Huskies are moving to a new league next year that will take them away from the top five teams in this year’s conference and join them with Rolesville, Corinth Holders and Knightdale – none of which has the pedigree of the Cap-8 powers.
The two teams shared a common first this year: Wake Forest and Heritage each beat Wakefield for the first time in school history. The winless Wolverines were swept by both.
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Coach Cyndi Keller has a lot to look forward next year from her team. Were this year’s team in next year’s conference, it’d have a conference title.
The good news is the Cougars (5-11, 4-10) bring back four of their top six including doubles players Emma Abarca and Katie Dickerson, both freshmen.
Wake Forest hopes to continue an upward trend that took a big step this year by finishing sixth in the Cap-8.
“We’re playing stronger and we’re lasting in matches longer and it’s leading to wins for us,” Keller said. “We are looking to win more matches (next year) and not be in the bottom half of the conference but I also want to stay conservative and not take ourselves for granted.”
The Cougars are led by senior No. 1 singles player Kyrsten Le, senior No. 2 Sara Brooks Daniel, junior No. 3 Trinity Burks, sophomore No. 4 Rachel Davis, sophomore No. 5 Sarah Jane Wrenn and freshman No. 6 Sophie Padalecki.
Coach Leanna Winstead said she couldn’t ask for a better group than this year’s Huskies (2-12, 2-12).
“They’re such a great group of girls and they’re all best friends. Even when they’re not playing, they’re encouraging each other, and that’s something I’m more proud of than wins or losses,” Winstead said.
Junior Alexandria Scott is the team’s top player and has a chance at qualifying for the regional tournament in singles. The rest of the lineup includes: senior No. 2 Janelle Maffucci, junior No. 3 Haley Viall, sophomore No. 4 Sydney Garff, senior No. 5 Emilie Phan and senior No. 6 Anuva Fellner.
Seniors Quinn McCabe and Mikaela Marion will be missed next year for their doubles play.
“This program is still pretty young. We have five seniors this year and their leadership is just awesome,” Winstead said. “It’s going to be probably a lot more competitive (next year) because we could be competing for a conference championship, which would be the first in our history. I want to keep encouraging them to work in the offseason and work hard and come next year ready to go and prepared.”