Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 6, 2013

A date at states

Williams and Day begin Group A doubles play

BLUEFIELD — If you don’t succeed the first time, try, try again.

The Graham girls doubles team of Rebecca Day and Caitlin Williams did just that last Thursday in the Region C tournament, and wound up in the Group A state doubles semifinals.

“We worked for it since last year in regionals so we were definitely hoping that we could make it this far,” Day said.

That duo will meet Rosa Smith and Emily Smith of Gate City in the semifinals today at Ndor Tennis in Roanoke around 3 p.m.

The winner will face either Kynadi Mauney and Carrinton Mauney of George Mason or Abby Goszka and Lori Gagnon of Rappahannock for the state title on Saturday at Radford University’s Dedmon Center Courts.

Today’s matches had also been slated for Radford, but rainy weather in the forecast has caused wholesale schedule changes for all VHSL scheduled events.

Not matter where it is played, Graham girls tennis coach Kevin Bowers feels like the G-Girls are prepared for state competition.

“They actually started together last year,” Bowers said. “They worked together in the offseason, into the summer and into the fall, they worked through the winter, they came out early for conditioning, they showed up every day for practice.

“They have worked together as a team and they put in the work and they deserve to be where they are.”

That duo lost a heartbreaking decision to Radford in the Region C team finals, an overall match that Graham lost 5-4 in more than seven hours.

Up next was the doubles finals, and the Graham combo was ready.

“It kind of put a fire under us to go out and win and get a championship in regionals as doubles since we couldn’t as a team,” Day said.

They did, defeating what may have been a weary Radford duo of Cypress Beach and Neha Desai 6-4, 6-2. The G-Girls had done the same earlier in the season, losing to Galax in the regular season, but beating the Maroon Tide in the Mountain Empire District tournament.

“I feel like there was less pressure on us in our second match against them so we were able to play better and I also think the Radford girls kind of let up,” Day said. “We just played really well that afternoon.”

“We came back stronger,” added Williams. “The Radford team was kind of tired and we just played to our ability.”

While Williams — who lost in the Group A state semifinals on Thursday — has been playing tennis since age 4, Day was closer to 11 when the Graham first picked up a racket.

“Just curiosity in the sport,” said Day, who is the number two seed behind Williams in singles play. “I was kind of went around as a child and played all kinds of sports and tennis was something that I wanted to stick with.”

Day also played volleyball for the G-Girls, and does find similarities between two sports involving balls and nets.

“The footwork is the very similar and some of the swinging like overhead is like hitting the ball or serving so they are correlated in those aspects,” Day said.

Bowers expects the Graham duo to be a difficult out, what with Williams being a southpaw and Day swinging from the other side.

“They actually complement each other very well, one left-hander, one right-hander is a pretty strong combination in doubles,” Bowers said. “They both volley well which is a huge benefit, especially in girls doubles.”

“We definitely communicate, we give each other high-fives,” added Day. “We have our own little things, being friends off the court really helps on the court as well.”

Graham lost to the Smith duo from Gate City earlier in the season, but the G-Girls expect to be ready for the Blue Devils.

“We lost to them during our regular season play, but hopefully we can go in and do work and get things done,” Day said. “I think now we have a little strategy toward their game we can go in and definitely play higher-level tennis than we would have before.”  

It’s been a difficult spring for all sports, with rain, snow and cold interfering throughout the season, with more rain forcing today’s semifinals from the outdoor courts at Radford University to indoor facilities in Roanoke.

“For the most part we adapted really well,” Day said. “I know the weather was cold leading up to the middle of May so we definitely had to adapt to the colder weather, but we played through it.”

The G-Girls’ junior duo is hoping to play two more matches as a team. Bowers thinks it can happen.

“We definitely have to use teamwork and play how we know how to,” Day said.

“As long as they come out and play like they can,” added Bowers, “they will match up just fine.”

—Contact Brian Woodson


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