Sherando slips past Loudoun County in girls tennis

STEPHENS CITY — Sherando’s girls tennis team was pushed to doubles on Monday, and the Warriors responded to the challenge.

Sherando pulled out a 5-3 victory over Loudoun County in the Region 4A West tournament semifinals. The Warriors host Freedom at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the regional semifinals with a Group 4A state berth on the line.

“Everyone has some bad matches, and unfortunately we had a couple of girls in singles who didn’t play the way they normally do,” Sherando coach Trevor Johnson said. “And I preached to them all season long one of these matches is going to come down to doubles and you’re going to have to perform in doubles, and they did do that. They did exactly what they needed to in doubles.”

With the team score tied at 3, Sherando’s Sarah-Beth Blaney and Maddie Woolever beat Leah Culbert and Claire Wigglesworth, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 2 doubles in just 41 minutes.

Blaney struggled in her singles match earlier, and said she knew she had to step up for the team.

“I knew that we needed the match, so I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that I could do that for my team,” Blaney said. “I went in to it with the mentality that they need us. I had to bring everything that I could. So I stayed at the net, and I poached and I got everything that I could. And I gave it absolutely everything in me.”

The Warriors (19-0) clinched the team victory with a win at No. 1 doubles. Sherando’s Abby Sears and Kathryn Robertson beat Daniella Hafner and Zoe Poole, 6-3, 6-2.

“I think we played really well in doubles,” Robertson said. “We had a couple hiccups, but we got through them which is a good sign. It shows you can get over it even if you have a few bad games. I think sometimes we stop being aggressive, and that’s when we start playing bad, But I think when we start playing aggressive that’s when we play well. And that’s what we needed to focus on.”

Early on it appeared Sherando might do fine in singles play. Sherando took early leads in four of the six singles matches.

At No. 4 singles, Robertson cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Culbert in just 57 minutes.

Sherando extended the team lead to 2-0 as Sears defeated Poole, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 2 singles.

The Raiders won the next three matches. At No. 1 singles, Hafner beat Terrian Jennings, 6-1, 6-1. Jennings was filling in for Alexa Venturato, who has been out part of the season with an injury.

Loudoun County’s Madeline Mills beat Meredith Gregg, 6-2, 6-0, at No. 5 singles.

At No. 3 singles, Blaney led Rachael Cullen 5-2 in the first set, but lost the next 11 games. Cullen won then match, 7-5, 6-0.

Sherando tied the match up as Woolever defeated Wigglesworth, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 6 singles.

The Warriors are now one victory away from a second-straight Group 4A state berth.

Despite their struggles on Monday, the Warriors showed they can close out matches in doubles if needed.

Sears noted, “I think that one thing we do really well, especially if we lose a match is we shake it off and apply it to other.

“If we don’t play well in singles we like to put our heads on straight and go out in doubles and play a great doubles game.”