Anyone who left Atlee High School early Monday evening after watching the James River girls tennis team sweep all six singles matches over the Raiders left prematurely.
Although the team victory was no longer in doubt, the Raider girls redoubled their mindsets, and their efforts, and swept the three doubles matches to make the final score Rapids 6, Raiders 3.
“It was like watching two completely different matches,” said Atlee head coach Richard Hanson. “In singles play, they looked afraid, unsure of themselves. In doubles matches, they were sure of their ability. I was very proud of the way they bounced back.”
Accomplishing the feat of sweeping the doubles matches after being so thoroughly dominated in singles action, as Hanson noted, took a lot of mental toughness. It was an impressive way to end what had started as a very lost evening.
Usual number one Emily Wandling didn’t play singles due to a foot issue, moving freshman Jessica Wills to the top slot. She fell to Rapids’ top-seeded Rachel Summers 6-1, 6-0.
Of the other five matches, the Raiders won a combined four games out of 64.
Wandling took to the doubles court with Wills, battling the James River duo of Andy Hey and Erin Farleigh. Losing the opening game after triple-deuce, the Raider duo won eight of the final 11 games for an 8-4 triumph.
Annie Banton and Gillian Emerson took care of their opponents 8-1, while Madison Payne and freshman Shelby Morton defeated the team of Alabaster and Pope 8-4.
“The girls proved they have it when they need it, and those wins will be very important as we move forward and hit the road,” Hanson explained.
The Raiders, who evened their season record Tuesday evening with a 7-2 win at Varina, must play four of their next five matches on the road. Monday they go to unbeaten Cosby, followed by back-to-back trips to Lee-Davis April 10 and Hanover April 11.
In other tennis action, the Atlee boys moved to 2-0 with a 6-0 shutout Tuesday over Varina. The Raiders only lost four games in 12 sets of singles and doubles action to move to 3-0. They’ll travel to Henrico on Thursday.
Hanover and Lee-Davis will square off in boys and girls action Thursday at 5 p.m. The Confederate boys come in at 1-3, while hard-luck Hanover is 1-2 after a win Tuesday at Armstrong. The Hawks, led by Danny Polk, one of Virginia’s top high school tennis players, lost 5-4 decisions to powers Cosby and Henrico to begin the season.
Patrick Henry has had a difficult start to the season, as the boys fell to 0-3 Tuesday after falling to former Colonial District rival Deep Run 8-1. The Patriots will host Douglas Freeman Thursday. The girls team will travel to Freeman, sporting a record of 1-2 following their own 8-1 loss to Deep Run Tuesday. After a season-opening victory at J.R. Tucker, the Patriots have lost two straight.