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Competing in Region 3-AAAA with limited experience, the York Comprehensive High School girls tennis team is becoming a competitive force.
The Lady Cougars double win over South Pointe last week is evidence of the team's ascent in region play.
“We lost several players from last year, some to graduation, some moved away,” said YCHS tennis coach Phil Suggs. “As a result, many players moved up several places in the team ladder.”
Suggs said none of this year's team has previous varsity singles experience.
“However, we are young, no seniors, one junior, three sophomores and five freshmen total,” said Suggs. “The experience the players gain this year, along with the 'hard knocks,' will hopefully pay off beginning next year.”
The YCHS coach said the leap from 3A to 4A classification has been a challenge to the youth movement.
“Most teams we play have several players with years of experience, including USTA tournament experience,” Suggs said. “Our most experienced are in their third year and none has USTA experience.”
Heba Abdin, the lone junior, is the team's No. 1 singles player this season.
Abdin, a high-energy competitor on the court who leads by example, said the team ladder allows team members to challenge the player above them.
“The top seven are the varsity singles and doubles players,” she said. “The others make up the jayvee team.”
Abdin's comfort zone is hitting forehand ground strokes.
“There are times when I hit the ball short, then go deep,” she said. “I hit the ball to my opponent's backhand, which, more often than not, is a player's weakness.”
Abdin offers words of encouragement to the younger players on the team.
“I tell them to leave it on the court when things don't go well,” she said.
Katherine Wilkins, a sophomore who played jayvee tennis last season, has made her presence felt as the team's No. 5 varsity singles player.
“I am playing with more confidence,” said Wilkins. “The experience I gained last year is making a difference.”
Wilkins agrees with her coach that the Lady Cougars are a young team on the rise.
“We lost everyone last year,” she said. “They either graduated or moved.”
However, she said the team is moving forward. “We're making progress and improving by the week.”
Wilkins likes hitting ground strokes and will go to the net when there's an opportunity to gain an advantage.
Heather Bomar, a ninth-grader playing No 2., is the Lady Cougars' previous No. 1 singles player.
“I like to keep the ball in play and wear my opponent down,” she said. “I've had to step up this year.”
Suggs lauded this year's players for their undeniable commitment on and off the court.
“Our kids are working hard and have improved each week,” he said. “They conduct themselves with pride and class in each match and are a joy to work with as a coach.”
Suggs said he is indebted to volunteer assistant coach Johnny Wine for his contributions to the program.
“I appreciate his effort and expertise,” he said. “Our parents have been great in their support as well.”
The YCHS girls defeated South Pointe 4-3 in a match completed from last month's play.
Abdin, playing No. 3 singles at the time, prevailed 6-3, 6-0. Wilkins defeated her opponent 6-2, 6-3 playing No.5 singles.
Bomar/Abdin, playing No. 1 doubles, bested their opponent 6-4, 6-3, while the York's No. 2 doubles team, Felske/Madden, prevailed 6-1, 6-0.
All three losses were competitive matches, Bomar falling 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 at No. 1 and Kaitlin Pruitt bowing 6-3, 7-5 at No. 2 singles.
Haley Giles extended her opponent to the limit with 7-6 (6), 6-4 scores.
The Lady Cougars dominated South Pointe 6-0 in the regularly scheduled match.
In No. 1 singles, Abdin prevailed 6-2, 2-6, 10-5.
Other YCHS wins included: No. 2 Bomar, 3-6, 6-4, 12-10; No. 3 Pruiit, 6-0, 6-4; No. 4 Giles, 6-2, 6-2; and No. 5 Wilkins, 6-4, 6-4.
Madden/Felske prevailed 6-2, 6-1 in doubles competition.