Mighty tennis run should continue in ’18

Published 9:19 am Thursday, August 9, 2018

Davie’s girls tennis team was fantastic in 2015 (13-3 overall, 10-2 in the Central Piedmont Conference for second place and the CPC Tournament champion), but Davie was an almost unbeatable force in 2016 and 2017.

In 2016 under coach John Bullins, the War Eagles didn’t lose until the final eight of the state 4-A dual team playoffs, when Myers Park handed them their only blemish. They swept the CPC titles and finished 16-1. Last year under new coach Collin Ferebee, they went 14-2, shared the regular-season title with Reynolds (both teams went 9-1), won the league tournament and got the last laugh against Reynolds by winning a playoff to earn the No. 1 seed. In the first round of the state playoffs, Lake Norman squeaked by Davie 5-4.

The three-year run has seen Davie go 43-6 overall and 29-3 in the CPC. The outlook for 2018? Pretty darn rosy. With Laura Becker, Sierra Foster, Amanda Ngo and Emery Rosenbaum back as seniors, Davie may go decades before seeing something like this again. Dealing with regular-season complacency might be Davie’s hardest job.

“(The lineup is) a little less clear cut than last year, but if they work hard, I don’t know why we can’t contend,” second-year coach Ferebee said.

Becker will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, players of all time, a history that dates to 1975. Her numbers are truly staggering. As a freshman, she went 20-5, won the Midwest Regional and split two matches in the state individual tournament. As a sophomore, she went 24-1, won the CPC singles championships, won the regional again and split two matches in the state tournament. As a junior, she went 25-1, repeated as CPC singles champion, captured the regional for the third time and went 2-1 in the state meet, reaching the semifinals where she lost to South Meck’s Jenna Thompson, a rising junior and two-time state champ. Becker’s career record in singles is 69-7. She has committed to a Division-I school in New York (the Siena Saints).

“I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t have improved since last year,” Ferebee said. “She played in quite a few ITA tournaments this summer. She’s always going to bring everything to the court.”

Two more have been major factors during Davie’s 43-6 run. As a freshman, Ngo went 15-1 and won the CPC doubles title with sister Jennifer. She went 13-2 as a sophomore. Playing the two and three seeds as a junior, she went 16-0 and won the CPC doubles title with Foster. Her career record in singles is 44-3.

Foster went 14-5 as a freshman and 13-8 as a sophomore. Playing two and three as a junior, she went 14-2, won the aforementioned CPC doubles championship and brings a 41-15 career singles record into ‘18.

“Amanda is ready to continue where she left off last year,” Ferebee said. “Sierra was at Governor’s School this year, but she was hitting at least twice a week. And she came to preseason camp ready to go. Everybody’s got a little bit of rust at the beginning, but Sierra had already shaken that off two days in. So I don’t see why she wouldn’t continue her winning ways from last year.”

Rosenbaum, who went 5-2 as a spot starter in singles from 2015-17, appears ready to take the torch at No. 4.

“We’re still in tryout phase right now, but I don’t know why she wouldn’t be (No. 4),” he said. “She was right there last year; she just had seniors (Aubree Privat, Grace Nixon and Moriah Lane) ahead of her. She worked hard all season, and I knew I could count on her when I needed her. It looks like she’s been hitting over the summer.”

Davie has five seniors, including Sydney Smith. Aisulu Ball and Megan Cash are juniors. Ashley Butero, Ava Montebello, Laura Newsom and Eliza Smith are sophomores. Late last week Ferebee wasn’t ready to release the freshmen names.

The War Eagles boast one of the more impressive streaks in the entire athletic department – 19 straight winning seasons. Among their goals will be trying to match what the 1975-77 teams accomplished. The first three teams in school history won three regular-season crowns in the North Piedmont 3-A Conference.

The biggest challenger in Davie’s quest for a regular-season three-peat will be Reynolds. Last year Davie and Reynolds split 5-4 battles in the regular season. After Davie outscored the Demons 33-23 in the CPC Tournament, Davie buried Reynolds 5-2 in the playoff match to settle the top seed.

“We think they lost one starter,” Ferebee said. “I think one, two and three return, so that will be a tough battle.”