• 64°

Tennis season opens for Stanly teams

Five Stanly women’s tennis teams will take to the courts this fall. The Gray Stone Knights return as the defending Yadkin Valley Conference champions.

Albemarle

The Bulldogs did not field a team last season but return in 2018 with a new head coach, Vivian Bridges, and a new outlook.

Albemarle will have seniors Kylie Dixon and Emma Freeman and sophomores Princess Horne and Kamalana Wilder on the team. The young Bulldogs will also have four freshmen on the squad: Hailey Bird, Allison Little, Itza Ochoa and Natalie Sedano.

Bridges said “showing up and staying focused are the keys to positive outcomes” for her team this season.

Despite being a new coach, Bridges said “not knowing how to do something never stopped me from trying.”

Gray Stone

A number of players return for head coach Orlando Castillo after the Knights went 14-0 in the regular season and 12-0 in YVC play. Gray Stone lost in the second round of the state 1A dual team playoffs to Bishop McGuinness, 5-4.

Sophomore Emma Bost was a state runner-up last season in 1A singles for the Knights and returns.

Also returning are seniors Lilley Brookshire, Jordan Loflin, Alexa Bolin and Kate Van Horn, junior Mia Taggert and sophomore Ella Hedenskog. Ally Mauldin will also be on the Knights’ roster.

“It’s going to be a good year for new players to show what they’ve got, and with four starters from last season returning, it should be an interesting year,” Castillo said.

“We hope to pick up where we left. We have a good incoming class of freshmen with lots of potential ready to take on the court.”

North Stanly

The Comets return five starters after losing two key seniors, Merionne Hunt and Elaine Hudson, as well as head coach, Brian Cribb.

Two coaches, Sarah Harwood and Nancy Napier, will coach the women’s team this season. Harwood will coach the team for her first season while Napier has a number of years having assisted and coached North.

Key returning players for the Comets include seniors Elithe Hudson, Vanna Vang and Faith Wang, junior Katie Earnhardt and sophomores Josie Luther, Courtney Smith, Rylee Hudson and Emma Hatley.

New players for North include sophomore Emma Shue and freshmen Haley Isenhour, Madison Smith and Maddie Waggoner.

“The girls have worked really hard in the offseason. We’re really looking forward to a great season,” Napier said on behalf of the coaching staff.

South Stanly

The Bulls were 9-4 last season and 8-4 in the YVC under head coach Carla McSwain, finishing third in the conference.

South graduated two All-Conference players last year who competed in the top singles seeds. McSwain said the coaching staff is “rebuilding and grooming some returners to fill those shoes.”

Two seniors return, Keely Salmon and Konner Napier, both of whom are “seasoned veteran players,” McSwain said. Both will play in the top six singles.

Also returning are juniors Huntley Rummage, Hailey McNeill, Ruth Fallen and Chasity Hartsell, along with sophomore Rachel Huneycutt.

McSwain said the team is excited two welcome two key additions. Freshman Jacy Noble was a middle-school tennis champion and a multi-sport athlete. South will also have junior Taylor Guinn, whom McSwain said was “enthusiastic.”

South’s goals for the season are to improve each player’s tennis ability, McSwain said, as well as improve “their love for this lifelong sport.” She said she wants the team to grow together as a family building “individual character and compassion. We would really like to earn a winning record and perhaps finish at or near the top of our conference.”

West Stanly

Head coach Vanessa Shields and the Colts were 5-9 last season, but the coach said she hopes to see the team improve this year with more experience.

Returning top players for West include seniors Lindsey Phillips and Cortney Queen, juniors Selah Hunsucker and Sarah Coble and sophomores Morgan Edwards, Meredith Harwood and Riley Smith.

Two newcomers who Shields said will be adding to the team’s success are senior Jordan Johnson and freshman Maryn Mauldin.

“We are excited about the potential of this team. We hope to have a lot of success and be at the top of the conference,” Shields said.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

email author More by Charles