From a team of three to victory

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The girls tennis team at Seton School in Manassas had a remarkable season, winning the Delaney Athletic Conference using the powers of hard work, perseverance and prayer to overcome great odds.

 

The season began with only three players on the team: juniors Bridget Atkinson and Mary Heim, whose mothers co-coached; and eighth-grader Jordan Kach.

A full team requires five players for the five singles and two doubles matches, so players and coaches began searching for other students. Freshman Anna Francis and eighth-grader Mary Pennefather, who both play recreationally at a local club, filled the slots. Emma Brox and Charlotte Yelvington joined as exhibition players.

Team members trained outside practices and bonded into a tight-knit squad playing off each other’s talents. The coaches said each girl reminded them of a superhero. For example, Atkinson was the Hulk due to her aggressive style, and Pennefather was the Flash because of her quick movement to and from the net.

The girls won tight matches in the DAC and finished second in the regular season and ranked seventh in the state in Division II. In the league tournament final they faced Highland High School from Warrenton, which had beaten Seton twice in the regular season and was ranked third in the state.

The players were nervous, but felt prepared. “We continued to work hard and each of us tackled what our game needed most: consistency, topspin or pace,” said captain Atkinson of the days leading up to the final.

The day of the final match began with Mass, followed by the trek to Warrenton to play the Hawks. Rain threatened to postpone the contest, but the sky cleared in time.

 Highland played their trademark defensive style. By the end of the singles, Seton was down 2-3, and had to win both of the doubles matches to be victorious. Atkinson and Kach played aggressively, winning 9-6.

The two Marys, also known as Mary Squared, then took the court for the deciding match. They were down 2-6, but made a comeback to win 9-7.

Seton won the title of DAC champions, Kach was named Conference Player of the Year and later named first team all-state. Heim was chosen first team all-conference and second team all-state, and Atkinson was selected second team all-conference. The team had an incredible season filled with victory, bonding and fun.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017