Warriors ready to face Hanover in state finals

Sherando's Alexa Venturato returns a volley to Handley's Meredith Watts during the Region 4A West girls tennis tournament final in Stephens City on June 2. The Warriors will play Hanover in the Group 4A state final in Roanoke on Saturday. Rich Cooley/Daily file

STEPHENS CITY — Sherando faces its biggest challenge of the season Saturday.

The Warriors will square off with Hanover in the Group 4A girls tennis state championship at 10 a.m. at Roanoke College. Both teams were in the state semifinals last year. Sherando lost in the state semifinals to Midlothian, while Hanover lost in the state final to Midlothian.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to really fight because their top 6 — they have a lot of depth,” Sherando coach Trevor Johnson said earlier this week.

It will be a battle of two undefeated teams.

The Hawks are led by senior Stephanie Broussard, who plays at No. 1 singles. As a team the Hawks haven’t lost more than three individual matches in any team match and they haven’t lost an individual match in the postseason.

The two teams have two common opponents. Hanover beat Jamestown, 5-0, in the Region 4A East final. Sherando beat Jamestown, 5-0, in the Group 4A state semifinals. Sherando beat Handley four times this season, including a 5-0 win in the region final. Hanover beat Handley, 5-0, in the state semifinals.

“I know Hanover beat (Jamestown), 5-0, too, so hopefully we can play with Hanover,” Sherando junior Kathryn Robertson said. “I think it gives us a lot of confidence going in.”

The Warriors have been solid all season, and the players said they are excited to play in the final.

Freshman Maddy Woolever, who plays at No. 6 singles, said it still hasn’t sunk in what the team has accomplished.

“It’s a really surreal feeling. It still doesn’t really feel real,” Woolever said. “We’ve worked really hard this season, and it’s just great to know that I’ve helped contribute to it. That makes me feel good. It’s just phenomenal to be on a team with such amazing girls.”

Sherando senior Abby Sears said that the loss in the state semifinals helped give the Warriors an edge this season.

“I feel like that was motivation for us to come back this year and play some better tennis and have a little bit more experience,” Sears said. “And I think that kind of drove us too.”

Today Sears and Robertson will get a little taste of what they are facing Saturday. The Sherando pair will face Broussard and Madison Moore in the Group 4A individual doubles state semifinals at Roanoke College. The semifinals are at 10 a.m. with the finals scheduled for 1 p.m.

Johnson said he believes Sears and Robertson are ready for the doubles tournament.

“I think they’re excited,” Johnson said. “I think Abby’s relaxed because she’s a senior, she’s graduated. And I think Kathryn’s a flat-out competitor. No matter what sport she’s playing she doesn’t want to lose.”

The Warriors have a young squad with two seniors (Sears and Meredith Gregg), two juniors (Sarah-Beth Blaney and Robertson) and one sophomore (Alexa Venturato) and one freshman (Woolever) in the singles lineup.

Johnson said before the state semifinal match he told his team that they’ve progressed since last year and that they had a lot to be proud of. He said he reminded them of all their accomplishments this season, including winning the regional title trophy and earning a medal for each player and that if they made the finals they would have even more hardware to pick up.

“I said (in the state finals) it’s going to be another trophy one way or another and medals for all of you,” Johnson said. “And we’ll go down, spend the night in the hotel and enjoy ourselves and have some fun.”