By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- Hoodies, knit caps and blankets were prevalent among the spectators and the players wore sweat suits against the brisk wind-chill conditions.
But the frequent gusts cutting directly across the courts were little hindrance to Sherando as the Warriors topped James Wood, 7-2, in Northwestern District girls tennis on Friday.
A bright light for the Colonels was the play of junior Headley Wilson, who beat Sherando's Sarah Wolfe 10-4, in the No. 1 singles matchup. It was the first time they had met on the court.
Both players showed top-level skills in shot placement, strong forehands and backhands, shot speed variance and defensive pursuit.
Wolfe was superb in firing shots to both baseline corners, keeping Wilson engaged in long run-downs.
Wilson showed an edge in the vertical game, with several well-timed and well-placed drop shots, and by coming in to the net to shorten the court.
"I knew that I had to get up early, 'cause I knew it would be close, so that was my main goal," Wilson said.
"And, then, I knew that I had to keep bringing her forward and back, because she's one of the bigger players, so you [have to] keep her moving around and not [let] her get in the zone on her ground strokes."
Wilson jumped out to a 3-0 lead and played through a Wolfe comeback before taking the final three sets for the win.
"I think my serve was working for me a lot, [even] with the wind because I could put spin on it, and my backhand was working because I put a lot of spin on that," Wolfe said.
"[Wilson] does well with her drop shot. She attacks the net real well, so I had trouble getting up to her shots. My game plan was to hit on one side the ones toward her and then the other side, away, and to keep her running."
The No. 4 singles match featured a tiebreaker.
James Wood (0-4, 0-2 Northwestern) freshman Tarah Wampler played Sherando sophomore Aly Myers to a 10-10 tie, then won the tiebreaker convincingly, 7-1.
"That's my first tiebreaker because it's my first year playing," Wampler said. "I guess I just wanted to win, so I knew I had to push to get ahead [in the tiebreaker]. I tried to go more to her backhand because it wasn't as strong as her forehand."
Sherando (2-5, 1-1 Northwestern) swept the doubles matches, 10-2, 10-2 and 10-4.
The Warriors are a very young team, with one junior, five sophomores and three freshmen.
"Considering the adverse conditions, I think the girls did a very nice job adjusting to the wind," first-year Sherando coach Trevor Johnson said. "They especially did a nice job in doubles. We've been working a lot on that and they played well together as a team, so I'm very pleased."
The Colonels are in a rebuilding year, with only three returning players and several in their first year of prep tennis. Their No. 2 singles player, junior Erica Basque, was away on a college visitation trip.
"Score-wise, it doesn't look all that impressive, but for as young and inexperienced as we are, I thought we made a good showing," James Wood coach Rob Haskiell said. "We were scoring in our matches. Some girls did some things in their matches that they've not done [before] and we continue to be competitive.
"That's what we're shooting for. Each match that we go into, it gives us that much more experience, so we just hope to build on the last match, and so far the girls have been doing that. We still have a long way to go. So long as they can continue to improve and they enjoy themselves while they're working at it, that's the goals we'll keep going with."