By Jeff Nations
FRONT ROYAL -- Like practically every spring sports team in the area, Warren County's girls tennis squad has been chaffing to get outside and get on with the season.
Mother Nature complied, grudgingly, and it might well have been that the Wildcats were rethinking those outdoor wishes on Thursday. Braving cold temperatures and blustery winds, Warren County battled through for a 9-0 home victory over Clarke County.
"It affected it a little bit, but we practice with our hands to adjust to the weather conditions," Wildcats senior Madison Ferst said. "It was freezing."
Ferst, taking over as Warren County's No. 1 singles player this year in place of graduate Carol Ashley, had a good battle with Clarke County's Callie Elliston in their match. Elliston rallied back from an early deficit, but Ferst never lost control during her 10-5 victory.
"Ferst is first this year, and she's enjoying it," Warren County coach Jeannie Tallent said. "She's one that I've not had to worry about over there because she's always been calm, cool and collected on the court ever since she's played."
Warren County's No. 2 Lauren Woodrell breezed past Clarke's Erika Hutchinson and the Wildcats' No. 4. Jayme Goode and No. 5 Lauren Peterson did the same in their singles matches, as each won by 10-1 scores.
The Wildcats' Gabby Goodson had a bit more trouble with the Eagles' Kristen George in their No. 6 singles match, but still picked up a 10-5 win.
The toughest match for Warren County came at No. 3 singles, where senior Morgan Walton had to rally back from two points down to pick up a 10-7 win over the Eagles' Samantha Smith.
"She was a little discouraged for a little bit, but she turned it around," Tallent said of Walton.
Clarke County coach Ted Schulhof said his team didn't have one of its better days against the Wildcats.
"Warren County's a good team, and we did not play up to our usual standards," Schulhof said. "Frankly, we looked a little out of it in the beginning. A couple of the matches were definitely close, and we'll see what happens with the rematch."
In doubles action, Ferst and Walton at No. 1 won 10-5, Woodrell and Bridget Backstrom scored a 10-4 win at No. 2 and the Wildcats' Goode and Alyssa Pauley rolled to a 10-2 victory at No. 3 doubles.
"We have a lot of returners, so our team is awesome this year," Ferst said. "All the top six is really good and we all love each other, so we play really well together."
Tallent said the Wildcats feature plenty of depth this season. Warren County (2-0) is playing its first year in the Bull Run District, and Thursday's match was their district debut.
"We've got some good senior leadership going on here," Tallent said. "[Ferst], [Woodrell] and [Walton] are seniors, and another senior is coming on at five [Peterson] But I can tell you all the way down from 11 on up, they're pushing hard to be playing.
"So you'll see a lot of change-up this season, I have a feeling. They're all going to push each other to want to play, and they all want to play."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>