SA places third in tourney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Special to the Tidewater News

WILLIAMSBURG—On May 1, the Southampton Academy girls’ tennis team awoke bright and early to travel to Williamsburg to host the Virginia Commonwealth Conference Tournament, bringing home a third-place finish.

The event was held at William & Mary’s McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, which boasts six indoor courts, stadium seating, a pro shop and the ITA Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame Museum.

All of the conference teams were in attendance, with new coaches across the board for all six teams.

At the tournament’s end, all of the schools finished in the same order as they did for the regular season.

The Steward School, coached by teaching professional Kate Crone, captured first place with 53 points. Blessed Sacrament Huguenot, coached by Ben Pomeroy, placed second with 43 points. Southampton Academy, coached by Debra Ward and assistants Tammy Porter and Sheryl Raulston, held third with 37 points.

Tidewater Academy, coached by David Root, placed fourth with 26 points. Fuqua School, coached by Jennifer Kyle, placed fifth with 16 points. The first-year team from Kenston Forest, coached by Mary Ann Estes, placed sixth with 14 points.

Sixty-three matches were played, consisting of singles and doubles matches of eight-game pro sets. The event lasted from 9 a.m. to after 6 p.m.

“While it was a long day, it was a fun day, with a lot of great matches at a superb facility,” Ward said.

SA held the second seed for the No. 1 doubles spot. Lindsay Raulston and Gabby Gatten, both sophomores, had a bye in the first round and won the second-round match against Blessed Sacrament (8-2) to advance to the finals, where they faced The Steward School. Raulston and Gatten were defeated 8-5 but still captured the second-place trophy for No. 1 doubles.

SA’s No. 2 doubles team of senior Molly Marks, who was the conference’s Academic Player of the Year, and seventh-grader Barclay Gatten was seeded third. They breezed by Kenston Forest 8-0 but lost in the second round to Blessed Sacrament 8-2. They defeated Tidewater Academy 8-6 to gain third place for No. 2 doubles.

SA’s No. 3 doubles team of Forrest Best and Brittney Cook, both sophomores, was seeded second but faced tough competition and lost in the second round 8-1 to Blessed Sacrament. They won the next match to also capture third place for doubles.

In singles play, the Lady Raiders captured a first place, three third places and two fourth places.

No. 6 player Victoria Drewry, a senior, was seeded third. She won in the first round against Kenston Forest 8-0 but was unable to overcome her subsequent opponents and lost to Blessed Sacrament 8-0 and to Kenston Forest 8-2 to finish fourth.

No. 5 player Barclay Gatten was seeded third. She won her first-round match 8-0, lost in the second round to Blessed Sacrament, and won against Tidewater Academy 8-5 to finish third.

No. 4 player Best was seeded third and defeated Kenston Forest 8-0 in the first round, followed by a loss to Blessed Sacrament in the second and an 8-0 win against Fuqua to gain third place.

No. 3 player Marks won 8-2 over Kenston Forest, followed by a loss to Blessed Sacrament. She lost against Tidewater Academy 8-3 to finish fourth.

No. 2 player Gabby Gatten was seeded second and had a bye in the first round. She was defeated in the second round 8-4, then won against Tidewater Academy 8-1 to win third place.

The No. 1 seeds from Southampton Academy and The Steward School had identical records. A coin toss resulted in SA receiving the top seed. Lindsay Raulston had a bye in the first round. She defeated Tidewater 8-0 in the second round to face Mary Tepper Taylor in the finals.

“This No. 1 finals match was the most popular match of the day,” Ward said. “Both girls are tournament players and had an exciting match with a lot of baseline play, and some amazing points. There was cheering from both sides of the stadium throughout the match.”

Raulston was up 5-3 early in the match but dropped a few games, causing a tiebreaker as the game score reached 8-8. She won the tiebreaker to capture the No. 1 seed first-place trophy

for the Lady Raiders. Tepper had won first place at No. 1 the previous four years and had never lost a match in the VCC tournament.

Both Raulston and Taylor are sophomores who play USTA tournaments throughout the year.

“They will undoubtedly be facing each other this summer and for the next few years in conference play,” Ward said.

Raulston is currently ranked No. 32 in girls 16-and-under singles for the Mid-Atlantic Region, which encompasses Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland.

“Southampton Academy wishes to thank Tom Hawkins of William & Mary’s McCormack-Naglesen Tennis Center for allowing the use of this top-notch facility,” Ward said. “Also, special thanks to the academy’s athletic director, Dale Marks, for all of his help during the season and with the tournament. Raider team members Nicole Hancock, Jessica Porter and Megan Drewry were diligent scorers and a tremendous help at the tournament.”

With the loss of seniors Marks and Drewry, “there will be open spots for players to move up the ladder,” Ward said. “The Raiders participated in the USTA no-cut tennis team program, which allow exposure to the sport to all.”

Other team members who attended practices and played exhibition matches to help improve their skills included Porter, Nicole Hancock, Emily Moore, Beth Ramey, Megan Drewry, Esther Eom, Kelly Hancock , Ginny Taylor and Hayden Edenfield.