No Time For Losers: Varsity Girls’ Tennis Brings Home the ‘Ship

Haven Ross, Social Media Chair

It’s been a long time coming. The Lady Eagles of the Rocky Mount Academy girls’ tennis team brought home the NCISAA 2A State Championship title on October 27th. The season was packed full of conference and non-conference matches and tons of practice hours. The hardwork and dedication displayed by the team was not wasted; they finished the season with an undefeated conference record, a 20-1 over record, and shiny first place medals on each player’s neck. The plethora of matches played leading to the victory were not as easy as some may believe. The team even played some matches that came down to one singles court, such as one against their newfound rival, The O’Neal School from Southern Pines. Over the season, the girls grew incredibly close as a team and critiqued their skills to perfection. Read below for all the ingredients that combine to make a State Champion team!

The girls would not have made it so far without the help of their dedicated coaches. Coach and Athletic Director Gayle High formed a busy schedule of matches for the team, which included difficult non-conference matches that greatly aided in their seeding for states. She helped the team develop stronger skills at the net, focusing on the art of poaching and maintaining confidence on the court. Augustine Gonzalez is the other half of the dynamic duo of coaches. Gus, as the team calls him, helped the girls with strategy. All players were instructed on consistency and when to make all the right moves. He helped the doubles teams make plays that dominated the competition. Together, their coaching styles helped form a team that simply could not be beaten physically or mentally.

I hold the first seed spot on the tennis team. I have been on the varsity team with Coach High since seventh grade, and I can honestly say I have never been more proud of any other season. My favorite memory from this season was definitely the moment that loud music from a soccer game began blaring out of speakers at our State Championship match. While the other team was bothered, our team felt the rhythm and got even more pumped up! Caroline was dancing on the court! I am so incredibly proud of how hard my team worked from the last week of July to the last week of October.

Ann Sumner Thorp, the human backboard, is the team’s number two seed. This season, Ann Sumner blossomed into an incredibly consistent player at the baseline who is also not afraid to smash an overhead at the net. Her favorite memory from the season was that feeling of winning the championship. Ann Sumner could not stop herself from smiling all day from nerves and excitement, and when we won the title, she was beaming the hardest.

The feisty Caroline Gay is the team’s third seed. Caroline is the type of person that leaves everything on the court. Together, she and her lucky sweatband cannot be beaten. This is proven by the fact that she only lost one out of 20 singles matches this year. Caroline has a plethora of amazing memories she made this year and most important are seeing the beautiful posters on her Senior Night and the JV/Varsity play day with fun costumes. If Caroline could say anything to her teammates, she would tell them she loves them all and wouldn’t rather play tennis with anyone else!

Ada Everette is the unstoppable fourth seed. The most valuable thing Ada learned this season is that teamwork is everything. She believes that without the support of each other, the team would not have won the championship title. On the day of the championship, the only thoughts running through her mind were that losing is not an option and being sick is no excuse! Ada’s determination and hustle greatly helped the team have an amazing season.

Sweet Shelton Honey serves it up at the team’s fifth seed spot. Shelton has an incredible singles and doubles record. At practices, she is always the first to talk about her school day and make people break into smiles with her humor. Her favorite memory from the season is coming back and winning her tight doubles match with Lillie at the State Championship. The match secured a 2-1 lead after the doubles round for the girls, giving the team huge momentum for singles.

Lillie Daughtride is the sixth seed and the heart of the team’s spirit. She leads our team chants before and after matches, and she embodies the term “Eagle Pride.” She encourages her teammates like no other, always offering a cheer or helping them get over a loss. My favorite memory of Lillie during the season is when she woke up before the rest of her roommates on the day of the State Championship match and loudly announced, “Let’s get this bread.” In the end, the varsity girls brought home the bread, and it could not have been done without this cheerful girl.

Ari Henderson, Bea Barnhill, and Eliza Meyers are the teams 6th-8th seeds. The girls showed constant support for their teammates, and there never was a dull moment with them around. They helped add an incredibly fun nature to the team dynamic, and the season would not have been the same without them.