Tennis team strong with returning starters

Published 8:57 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

Since Davie’s girls tennis team went 13-3 and won the conference tournament with an incredibly young roster in 2015, there is no shortage of expectations in 2016.

Expect a worthy encore with five of six starters returning for second-year coach John Bullins. Seniors Jennifer Ngo and Claire Myers and sophomores Laura Becker, Sierra Foster and Amanda Ngo are the returning starters. The only starter not back from 2015 is Emma Etter.

Last year the War Eagles finished second in the regular season in the Central Piedmont Conference. They beat Mt. Tabor for the first time in three years. They posted the most wins in eight years and enjoyed the best regular-season finish in four years. Reynolds captured the regular season for the second year in a row with a 12-0 mark. Davie went 10-2 for its highest CPC win total in 28 years.

Then Davie won the CPC Tournament with 30 points to Reynolds’ 21. It was the lone CPC title for Davie – in all sports – in the 2015-16 school year, and it marked Davie’s first CPC title in girls tennis since 2007.

Reynolds looks like the preseason favorite, although Davie ought to be superb again this year and for years to come.

“If Payton Pesavento is with (Reynolds) again, they’ll be an extremely strong team,” Bullins said. “If she’s playing elsewhere, they’ll still be a strong team. I would definitely put them as the preseason No. 1 team.”

Becker did amazing things as a freshman at the top of the ladder. She went 19-5, finished second in singles in the CPC Tournament and won the Midwest Regional to become the first Davie singles player to qualify for the state meet since 2007. She went 1-1 in the state tournament and finished with the most wins since 2007.

Foster was outstanding as a freshman, going 14-5 at No. 2. She split a pair of matches in the regional.

J. Ngo went 12-3 at No. 3. She is a fourth-year starter with a career record of 31-14.

A. Ngo went 15-1 at No. 4, and Myers, a third-year starter, went 13-1 at No. 6, giving her a career record of 23-4.

The Ngo sisters made history in doubles. They went 10-2, winning the CPC Tournament to become Davie’s first CPC champs since 2001. They split two matches in the regional.

Davie is oozing with confidence for another reason. Senior Annie Kinder is back on the court. She did not play last year, but she went 8-6 in 2013 and 12-1 in 2014. What an addition she is.

“She came out last year but had a conflict with her club soccer,” Bullins said. “But this year she has it worked out where she’ll be able to focus on tennis. She’s a good, solid addition. She’s going to help us.”

Junior Aubree Privat went 3-0 in spot action in singles last year, and sophomore Emery Rosenbaum won her only singles match a year ago. The roster includes seniors Macie Latham, Loren Myers and Shelby Nelson; juniors Grace Nixon and Moriah Lane; sophomore Sydney Smith; and freshmen Aisulu Ball and Megan Cash.

“Smith (who did not play as a freshman) has been a very pleasant addition,” Bullins said. “Hopefully that experience will carry over and lead to success. Like Rosenbaum, you can tell her game has elevated and that she’s really worked on it this summer. She is going to help us a lot. Nixon is another one who can help us in singles and doubles.

“That’s a good returning lineup. It’s a good mix of sophomore talent with some experienced seniors.”

It seems awfully easy to pencil Davie, which has reeled off 17 straight winning seasons, in at no worse than second place. But Bullins is taking nothing for granted.

“I know Mt. Tabor has some very good returning players,” he said. “North Davidson had some really good players last year. So it’s going to be a battle.”

Last year Davie made the state dual-team playoffs for the first time in four years, and it came very close to advancing in a 5-4 loss at Lake Norman. The next step is to advance in the postseason.

“Our goals are to be regular-season champs as well as tournament champs,” Bullins said. “Last year we made the playoffs. Now it’s time to win a playoff match.

“If we can stay injury free, mentally focussed and keep working hard in practice, we can be right there in that mix. I don’t know if we’re going to surprise anybody because people know about those sophomores now. But hopefully we can stay with them toe to toe.”

Notes: Davie has a tougher nonconference schedule this year. West Rowan is the only nonconference opponent that Davie saw in 2015. New foes are North Iredell, Page and Glenn. … MaryAnne Byerly is back as Bullins’ assistant coach. “I feel so fortunate to have her,” he said. “She’s a great resource, as well as a great coach.”