Terry Sanford gives Lady Cavs tough lesson
Southern Lee's ladies tennis team worked hard through the preseason under new head coach Vickie Wilkins and the Lady Cavs have had to work hard through the first few matches once the season's started. Wilkins is sure it will pay off through the bulk of the season still to play.
For one, the Lady Cavaliers play three sophomores, Britta Bowers, Ashley Darr and Selena Burchette, in their top four singles spots.
Second, the Lady Cavaliers opened their season with a narrow 5-4 loss to Northwood before facing the top two squads in the Cape Fear Valley Conference. The Lady Cavs fell 9-0 to Union Pines last week and 9-0 to Terry Sanford on a blazing hot afternoon at Southern Lee Wednesday. Seeing they can play competitively versus excellent opponents should serve the Lady Cavs well down the road.
And third, Wilkins knows she has a well-rounded group of players, on and off the tennis courts.
"Academically, basically all of the girls have outstanding GPAs and are excellent students. Then, they're hard-working athletes out here and some of them even find time for part-time jobs, too," Wilkins said. "It's phenomenal what they're able to accomplish and do."
The Lady Cavaliers started preseason practice on the morning of Aug. 1. They practiced from 7:30-11 a.m. each morning before the school year started, Wilkins said. Practices moved to the afternoon, and the afternoon heat, once classes started.
"There aren't enough good things I can say about this group," Wilkins said.
"I mean, this sport is all about sweat, gnats, hustle, heat and humidity, and they come out here and give 100 percent," she said.
It's been enough to play better versus Union Pines, the CFVC's defending champion and perennial player deep into state team and individual tournaments, and Terry Sanford, which won the 4A Mid-South title with a 15-0 regular-season record last year before being realigned into 3A. It isn't enough yet to threaten the Lady Vikings or Lady Bulldogs.
On Wednesday, Terry Sanford overpowered the Lady Cavs with its serving and groundstrokes. Helen Zhang defeated Bowers 10-0 at No. 1 singles. Tanya Slehria defeated Daisy Chang 10-2 at No. 6 singles for the closest match of the day.
The Lady Cavaliers didn't hurt themselves too often with errors or unforced mistakes. The visitors served a good number of aces and steadily put rallies away with a little too much pace.
Southern Lee traveled for a non-conference match at Jordan-Matthews on Thursday afternoon. Southern Lee and Lee County will meet for the first time this season, and the first time as Cape Fear Valley rivals, at Lee County at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Terry Sanford 9, Southern Lee 0
Singles: Helen Zhang d. Britta Bowers 10-0, Emma Edge d. Madeline Lutz 10-1, Claire Lieberman d. Ashley Darr 10-0, Huda McGraw d. Selena Burchette 10-0, Trisha Slehria d. Kim Romo 10-0, Tanya Slehria d. Daisy Chang 10-2
Doubles: Zhang/Edge d. Bowers/Lutz 8-0, Lieberman/McGraw d. Lutz/Burchette 8-0, Slehria/Slehria d. Darr/Romo 8-0