By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Experience is key in the world of sports. In high school sports more often than not the performer and team with the most experience fares better in competition than younger teams. The Graham G-Girls tennis team is in a unique position. For the second straight year the G-Girls are heading to regional play and they are young. None of the six players participating are seniors.
Graham is coming off another impressive season on the courts. Coach Billy Roach spoke about the G-Girls’ performance this year.
“We were 13-1 in the regular season. We lost to the defending state champions, Gate City. We were 10-0 in the district. The Mountain Empire District has a tournament just for No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles and in No. 1 singles Caitlin Williams won. In No. 1 doubles Williams and Rebecca Day won,” Roach said. “The kids have worked real hard and it’s their second year of being able to go to region and we got the toughest draw first, which is Radford.”
Radford is the team which kept Graham from advancing to state competition last year. However, this year the G-Girls are ready, having already defeated the Bobcats in regular season play.
Roach said that while the girls are ranked 1-6, there is little difference in talent skill among them, all very capable tennis players who work hard and are dedicated to improving their skills and helping the team win.
“Caitlin (Williams) is No. 1, Rebecca (Day ) is two. Haley (Sheets) is three, Misbah (Muzaffer) is four and they are all juniors. MyKenzie (Roach) is five and Nicole (Gabe) is six,” Roach said. “All of them are so close, even seven-through-10, Cyma Mounzer, Caroline Johnson and Reagan Coe. We also have Mariah Spracher who is a senior.
Roach said the girls’ attitude has been excellent throughout the season that started during the winter months.
“Kevin Bowers helps me here and he started in February conditioning with the ones who didn’t play a winter sport,” Roach pointed out. I had two that played basketball, but he went ahead and started conditioning with the rest of them. They came out early and worked right through.
Williams went undefeated in singles play in the district and she looks forward to returning to regionals in singles play and as a team for a second straight season.
“Our team has grown a lot closer and more experienced and we’ve played against the team that we’re going to have to play against in region and we actually beat them,” Williams commented. “It (beating Radford) gives us a better feeling and we kind of have better hope this year, knowing that we’re going there and we can win. We have a better feeling.”
Day said she hopes the team can continue its success from the regular season and district tournament and carry it on to the region.
“This season has been really good,” Day said. “Overall it has been great with the people that are on the team and all the wins that we’ve gotten. We’re really looking forward to regionals. Hopefully we can make it past that and go to state.”
Singles competition involving Williams gets underway Tuesday morning and will take on a young lady from George Wythe High School. Doubles play begins later that afternoon with Williams and Day.
Wednesday morning the team play starts and Graham will face Radford. A victory would put Graham into Thursday’s team finals with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
The regional and state tournament will be held at Radford University.