Tennis carries some amazing streaks into ’23

Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

The well dried up for the Davie girls tennis team in 2019, when the War Eagles suffered their first losing season in 23 years and saw their streak of winning seasons end at 20. They struggled again in 2021.

But then the War Eagles of Collin Ferebee went crazy. In 2021, they finished 14-1 overall and 12-0 in the Central Piedmont Conference. In 2022, they ran opponents through every button on the blender again, posting the same records while enjoying back-to-back perfection in the regular season. Last year marked Davie’s fifth CPC championship in seven years as two amazing streaks continued.

Davie has a 28-match winning streak in the regular season and a 24 winning streak in the CPC. Four of the five league titles since 2016 have come with Ferebee at the helm. Yep, when you play tennis for Davie, you really are part of something.

“This is my seventh year and I think we have a culture and expectation of this is what Davie women’s tennis is now,” he said. “A lot of them know: If I’m not getting better, I’m getting worse and I may not make it next year. It’s not just a social club where you earn a varsity letter.”

Can the War Eagles maintain the dominance in 2023? Let’s put it this way: It would be impossible for them not to recede after losing Karlie Quinn (11-1 singles record), Tru Koren (11-3), Sarah West Marklin (10-6) and Leslie Newsom (12-2) to graduation. Those four combined for a 44-12 singles record in 2022.

While Davie will be challenged to reload, Ferebee doesn’t expect his team to fall off a cliff.

“Neither Reagan nor Reynolds graduated any starters,” he said. “Talent is hard to beat, but experience is harder to beat in my opinion. Tabor improved a lot last year. We can’t overlook them. West Forsyth lost a lot of talent, but Davie-West is a rivalry that you never overlook.

“We haven’t lost (in the regular season) in two years, which is a testament to how hard the girls have worked. But that means the target is even bigger this year. Everyone wants to take down Davie. I expect us to be competitive in every match. We may not walk away with 14 straight wins, but as long as we play hard, as long as we leave it on the court, I can handle that.”

Ferebee’s best player is Elliot Newsome, who brings rock-solid credentials into her junior year. She went 13-2 at Nos. 1-2 singles as a freshman, and she went 10-3 at No. 1 as a sophomore. Her two-year singles/doubles record is 47-10.

“She’s going to put the ball exactly where she wants to put it, and you’re going to have to deal with it,” Ferebee said. “She’s not going to overhit you, she’s not going to slap winners on you. But she’s going to get to the ball, put it back where she wants it and make you hit a better shot. And 90 percent of the time, you’re not going to be able to.”

Davie’s No. 2 singles could be Bailey Aderhold, who went 22-4 as a hotshot freshman. She was 12-3 at 4/5/6 singles, and she was 10-1 in doubles.

“I think she felt a little pressure at the beginning (of 2022),” he said. “She didn’t want to mess up. But once she found her groove on the team, she was rocking and rolling. And she’s even more confident this year.”

Ferebee expects senior Gabby Thompson to make a big impact. She went 4-3 at No. 6 as a freshman, and she went 3-1 at 5/6 as a junior.

“She’s always been No. 7,” he said. “We’re expecting big things from her. She’s our biggest hitter, by far. She’ll wipe you off the court if you’re not paying attention.”

Outside of Newsome and Aderhold, there are a lot of unknown quantities. The encouraging part: Junior Abigail Etter and sophomores Victoria McFarlin, Casey Cao and Ada Wallace have all improved significantly since 2022. Etter has blossomed more in two years than even Ferebee thought she would.

“(Etter) has tremendously improved since her freshman year,” he said. “When she tried out her freshman year, it was probably the first time she’d ever touched a tennis racket. She’s a success story of when you put the time in, improvements can and will happen. It’s clearly noticeable that she has gotten a lot better.

“Victoria has improved her athleticism a ton. She’s been there all summer doing workouts with us. Her athleticism is going to take her places. She may not start as a sophomore, but if she keeps getting better, I could see her being good for us in the future.

“Casey has made a big jump. She was eight or nine last year. From about three through eight, it’s going to be a slugfest, and she’s going to be right in there.

“Ada has definitely gotten a lot better. She’s hitting better shots and she’s quicker.”

Notes: The roster includes seniors Olivia Swisher, Ali Cranfill and Brooklyn Lakey and sophomore Camryn Bullard. … Davie has the No. 1 player from each of the middle schools. Those freshmen are Corbin Drum (from Ellis), Leah Gibson (North Davie) and Bethany Jacobs (South Davie).