WINCHESTER – This season hasn’t gone quite the way Sherando senior Alexa Venturato wanted it to, but she’s ending it on a strong note.
Venturato, who has missed most of the girls tennis season with a wrist injury, advanced to the Class 4 Northwestern District individual singles final on Wednesday and clinched a berth in the Region 4C individual singles tournament next week.
Venturato beat Handley’s Lillian Smith in the singles semifinals, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in 1 hour and 52 minutes. Venturarto will play Fauquier’s Jennifer Adgate in today’s final at 11 a.m. at Handley High School. Ventuarto’s win came just one day after the Warriors won the district team tournament title with a 5-3 victory over Fauquier.
“It’s really exciting,” Venturato said. “Our team is coming off a great win yesterday and I would love to do just as well individually.”
Sherando junior Parker Gregg lost in the boys individual singles semifinals Wednesday, 6-2, 7-5, to Millbrook’s Joshua Dalton.
It was only Venturato’s fifth match back from her injury, which suffered just three matches into the season.
“I’m so grateful to be able to come back and play,” Venturato said. “Of course, it was devastating to have to be out for that long. It’s an uphill battle, but I’m going to work at it.”
Venturato started off well and built a 5-0 lead against Smith in the first set. Smith won three straight games before Venturato closed the set out.
“Sometimes I think it’s easy to settle when you start to get ahead,” Venturato said. “So that’s really important for me to have the mindset of knowing I have to keep working until the very end until that set is over.”
Smith kept her momentum going and took the second set, 6-3. After a 10-minute break between the second and third sets, Venturato came out strong in the final set. She needed only 31 minutes to win the last set. It was the third straight three-setter for Venturato in the postseason.
“This is the third one where I’ve had to lose a set to psych myself into the match,” she said. “I know my game. I know what I can do and I just have to remember that and trust myself.”
Sherando girls tennis coach Trevor Johnson said that the key was Venturato limiting her unforced errors.
“She started off real well, didn’t make many unforced errors,” Johnson said. “Then I think she relaxed a bit too much and the unforced errors started to creep in. Then the match got closer and then, in the end, she stopped the unforced errors and she put it away. The bottom line for her was just stopping the unforced errors. I told her I said you got to stop beating yourself and she did.”
Johnson said that Venturato is not 100 percent back to full strength, but she’s getting better and stronger with every match.
Venturato advanced to the Class 4 individual doubles state final last year with 2018 Sherando graduate Kathryn Robertson. Venturato said that experience from last year helped her on Wednesday.
Even though he didn’t win, Gregg said he was pleased with how he played against Dalton.
Gregg trailed 4-1 in the second set and won four straight games and served for the second set. However, Dalton picked up his play and won the last three games to win the match in 1 hour and 5 minutes.
“It’s the best that I’ve played against Josh,” Gregg said. “So I was pretty happy with that. I was sad that I didn’t get the second set, but that’s all right. I came back from 4-1 down and he played pretty well too.”
Gregg said that coming up just short of a regional berth will serve as motivation for next year.
“I’m going to do my best to make it next year,” he said. “We’ll see what happens next year.”
Sherando boys tennis coach Garland Williams said he was happy with how Gregg played.
“I think Parker played well today,” Williams said. “Even though he didn’t get the win, each time he’s played (Dalton) he’s improved. He really put up a good fight today. That shows good progression throughout the season.”
Dalton will play Handley’s Nick Mueller in today’s boys final at 11 a.m.
Gregg and Joe Venturato beat James Wood’s Jonah Borremeo and Jacob Gregg 6-0, 6-1 in just 28 minutes in the doubles quarterfinals. The Sherando pair play Millbrook’s Dalton and Drake Wilfong today at 1 p.m. in the semifinals with a Region 4C berth on the line.
Alexa Venturato and teammate Addy Gannon have a bye into the semifinals in the girls doubles tournament. They play James Wood’s Lily Kimble and Morgan Burner in today’s semifinals at 1 p.m.
Alexa Venturato would like to complete a sweep of district titles by adding an individual singles and doubles title to the team title her team won on Tuesday.
The Warriors lost twice to Fauquier during the regular season, 9-0 each time. However, they were without Alexa Venturato and Sherando No. 2 singles player Maddy Woolever each time they played in the regular season. Alexa Venturato said it was a good feeling to finally get to play against Fauquier and to see the team get the big win.
“It was amazing,” she said. “It feels great because last year we didn’t quite make it (losing in the district final). So with our young team to be able to finish it off – that was really exciting.”