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Sherando’s Robertson, Venturato looking forward to state doubles tourney

Kathryn Robertson

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando’s Kathryn Robertson and Alexa Venturato didn’t play their best tennis in the first match of the season, but they’ve been on quite a roll ever since.

The Sherando doubles pair has won 20 straight matches, since losing their opening match of the season. They are now two wins away from a state title, as they play today in the Class 4 girls tennis individual doubles state tournament held at Roanoke College.

“I think we’ve come a long ways since our first match,” Robertson said before Tuesday afternoon’s practice. “We lost to Handley. It’s the only match we’ve lost. I really just think we’ve improved throughout the season.”

Both Robertson and Venturato have played at No. 1 singles for Sherando this season, with Robertson claiming the top spot for good midway through the year.

As a doubles team, they each have different strengths that have helped their game as a team. Robertson is strong and aggressive at the net, while Venturato is solid from the baseline.

Alexa Venturato

“Kathryn and I, I think we just work well together, which is nice,” Venturato said. “We complement each other’s styles, which I think is really beneficial. That’s why we can play such a wide range of players and still have success, which is really important. I think we have opposite strengths. So what Kathryn can do well makes up for what I can’t and vice versa. So when Kathryn’s at the net I can cover behind her and things like that.”

Sherando coach Trevor Johnson said that while they each have different strengths, they also have some important similarities.

“They communicate well,” Johnson said. “They’re both gritty. They will fight until the very bitter end, and they’ll figure out a way to hang in there. And they both have a great set of wheels, and so they’ll hustle down points.”

Robertson, a senior, and Venturato, a junior, won the Northwestern District and Region 4C individual doubles tournaments in May.

The pair said they did not play their best in the regional tournament but still managed to win each match in straight sets.

” I think we didn’t play our best, but we really pushed through that and won,  which is really good to show us where we need to improve before the state tournament,” Robertson said. “And we’ve been working on a lot of things we didn’t do well in the regional tournament, like serving and stuff, to get ready for the state tournament.”

Robertson and Venturato play Blacksburg’s Annie Zhang and Emma Lawless in the semifinals at 10 a.m. today. Hanover’s Raine Wells and Madison Moore are playing Jamestown’s Katie Rowland and Emily Sharp in the other semifinal. The final is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Last year Robertson and 2017 Sherando graduate Abby Sears advanced to the individual doubles state tournament and lost to Hanover’s Moore and Stephanie Broussard, who graduated last year, in the semifinals.

Robertson said she learned a lot from last year’s experience.

“I learned that the state competition is a lot higher than all the other competitions,” Robertson said. “Abby (Sears) and I did well for regionals and we got there and Hanover just killed us. So I think seeing that showed us the level of competition that we really need to step up to and play.”

Johnson said he’s confident in Robertson and Venturato as long as they play the way they are capable of playing.

“I’m hoping they’re both at their best (today),” he said. “If they do that I don’t think anybody can touch them. But they both have to be playing well.”

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