RC Girls Split Pair; Blues Fall

RC Girls Split Pair; Blues Fall

RC SOPHOMORE Saara Basuchoudhary prepares to hit a backhand during her match at No. 1 singles against Turner Ashby’s top player. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photo)

RC Girls Split Pair; Blues Fall
RC Girls Split Pair; Blues Fall

ABOVE, TOP, Wildcat senior Courtney Towle reaches for a backhand approach shot during her 8-3 win against TA’s No. 2 singles player. ABOVE, BOTTOM, The RC and TA coaches introduce players before the match. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photos)

Both Teams Start Season Under New Coaches

In the opening week of the high school girls tennis season, Rockbridge County split a pair of Valley District matches while Parry McCluer lost 8-1 to Pioneer District rival Narrows on Thursday.

The Wildcats won their opener 8-1 at Harrisonburg last Wednesday before losing to Turner Ashby 5-3 at the Lexington Country Club courts on Friday.

Against Harrisonburg, RC won every match but No. 1 singles, where Harrisonburg’s Jeslyn Liu overcame RC’s Saara Basuchoudhary 9-7.

Singles winners for the young Wildcats were Courtney Towle at No. 2, Lydia Newhouse at No. 3, Sara Topasna at No. 4, Sophia Tryon at No. 5 and Clara Pickett at No. 6.

In doubles, Basuchoudhary and Towle teamed up at the top spot to earn a 9-8 (7-3 tiebreak) win. RC’s No. 2 and 3 doubles teams cruised to 8-2 wins.

Against TA, the Wildcats split their singles matches, with Towle, Newhouse and Tryon picking up wins. The Knights won at No. 1 and 2 doubles to seal the team win.

RC is under the director of a new head coach, Mallory Bane, who replaces Andy Coffey, who led the Wildcats to a 5-12 record in 2019.

Bane was hired before last season, which was canceled due to COVID-19. She played two years of tennis at RC before moving to Louisa County and then Surry County, finishing high school through a homeschool group in order to travel for her father’s job as a nuclear welder.

Bane, who works as a mental health associate in an autism program for New Story Schools, was notified about the coaching position in late January of last year, so she applied for it and was accepted. “I wanted to be the coach because I have had some amazing coaches, teachers and administrators who set a standard of excellence in academics, athletics and above all being a caring, kind individual,” she said. “I wanted the chance to make the same impact.”

This year, she’s working with a team of five sophomores and two juniors, with Towle as her only senior.

In the Fighting Blues’ match at Narrows, the lone win for PM came at No. 2 doubles, where Sydney Cullen and McKenna Hickman earned an 8-6 win. The No. 1 doubles match was also close, with PM’s Addisen Roberts and Sadie Mays falling 8-6.

The closest singles match was at No. 2, where Roberts fell 9-7.

The Blues are a young team, and five of the six players had never played before this season. PM’s one returning playing, Cullen, is playing at No. 1 singles. “She is a great leader for the team,” said new PM head coach Maggie Patterson.

Patterson, a 2019 PM graduate, replaces her father, Rad, as the Blues’ head coach. Rad coached the Blues to an 9-1 record and the Region 1C semifinals in 2019.

Maggie had great success as a high school tennis player. As a junior, she teamed up with 2018 graduate Ashlen Hazelwood to win the Class 1 state doubles championship, the first state tennis title in school history.

Maggie is currently enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, on track to graduate next spring. She’s been living in Richmond for most of the school year, but she came back home after PM asked her to become the new coach.

Because of COVID-19, all of her classes at VCU are online, so she was happy to come back for a four-week season. “I have always known that I wanted to coach, but I didn’t think I would have the opportunity this soon at the age of 19,” she said.

“I am excited to start building a tennis program at PM, and I think there are great things to come in the future for my younger players,” added Patterson. “While I am still unsure of where I will end up after graduation, I would love to continue working with these girls and be their coach in the future.”

RC was scheduled to play host to Broadway yesterday and will have district road matches against Spotswood on Thursday and Waynesboro on Friday before playing host to Harrisonburg on Tuesday. All matches are scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

The Blues were slated to play at Alleghany yesterday and visit East Rockingham today at 5 p.m. They’ll then have two district home matches at the Southern Virginia University courts, taking on Bath County on Thursday at 7 p.m. and having a rematch with Narrows on Monday at 5 p.m.

RC 8, HHS 1

SINGLES – Jeslyn Liu (HHS) d. Saara Basuchoudhary (RC) 9-7; Courtney Towle (RC) d. Lucia Gabel (HHS) 9-7; Lydia Newhouse (RC) d. Madison Horneber (HHS) 8-2; Sara Topasna (RC) d. Kim Portillo (HHS) 8-6; Sophia Tryon (RC) d. Kim Portillo (HHS) 8-6; Clara Pickett (RC) d. Clare Kirwan (HHS) 8-5.

DOUBLES – Basuchoudhary (RC) and Towle (RC) d. Liu and Gabel (HHS) 9-8 (7-3 tiebreak); Newhouse and Topasna (RC) d. Horneber and Portillo (HHS) 8-2; Tryon and Pickett (RC) d. Ilana Mattson and Olivia Eberly (HHS) 8-2.

TA 5, RC 3

SINGLES – Anna Philips (TA) d. Basuchoudhary (RC) 8-2; Towle (RC) d. Jordyn Sizemore (TA) 8-3; Newhouse (RC) d. Emily Davidson (TA) 8-1; Kate Jones (TA) d. Topasna (RC) 8-2; Tryon (RC) d. Kendra Gillette (TA) 8-5; Harper Podd (TA) d. Clara Pickett (RC) 8-6.

DOUBLES – Philips and Jones (TA) d. Towle and Basuchoudhary (RC) 8-2; Sizemore and Davidson (TA) d. Newhouse and Topasna (RC) 8-1.

Narrows 8, PM 1

SINGLES – McKinna Huffman (N) d. Sydney Cullen (PM) 8-4; Laci Tankersley (N) d. Addisen Roberts (PM) 9-7; Ginna Bowles (N) d. Sadie Mays (PM) 8-1; Allison Hazelwood (N) d. McKenna Hickman (PM) 8-0; Kaylee Ludwig (N) d. Payton Emore (PM) 8-1; Anna Spangler (N) d. Mikayla Higgins (PM) 8-1.

DOUBLES – Roberts and Mays (PM) d. Huffman and Tankersley (N) 8-6; Cullen and Hickman (PM) d. Bowles and Ludwig (N) 8-6; Hazelwood and Spangler (N) d. Higgins and Emore (PM) 8-3.

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