Lady Knights hope to ace next challenge

W. Curt Vincent Editor

October 13, 2013

DUBLIN —The successes continue to pile up for the Lady Knights’ tennis program, as all six players competing in last week’s Class 2-A Four County Conference tournament in Clinton advanced to this week’s regional tournament in Reidsville.

West Bladen completed the regular season 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the conference.

“The girls are playing pretty good right now,” said coach Jeff Atkinson. “They have come a long way since the start of the season, especially the younger players.”

Last week, the Lady Knights’ No. 1 singles player Josie Ludlum went 2-0 to win the conference championship and improve her season record to 10-3. Teammate Alicia Avellaneda, who played at No. 2 singles, went 1-1 in the conference tournament — suffering her first loss of the season in the championship to Ludlum. Avellaneda is now 12-1.

In doubles, the Lady Knights’ team of Madison Staton and Alanna Ludlum split their matches in the conference tournament to take second place and will head to the regional with an 11-2 overall mark. The tandem of Tatianna Sturgis and Amber Long took a long road to third place in the conference tournament, finishing 3-1 on the day and improving to 7-5 overall.

“When we go to regional play, it’s like taking a minor league team to play in the majors,” Atkinson said. “So many players who have the luxury of taking tennis lessons at private country clubs and recreation parks will be there — and some even have played in USTA junior leagues. That’s a huge advantage.”

West Bladen will be competing in a new region. After eight years in the East Region at Snow Hill, the Lady Knights will participate in the Mid-East Region, where they will face the likes of Carrboro and the N.C. School of Math and Science — each of which is ranked in the top 12 in the state.

“My girls have to stay focused, be consistent with their ground strokes and keep the unforced errors down,” Atkinson said. “I think if we can do that, then … hopefully we can pull out a match. I think the girls are up to the challenge. I know they are excited about going to play.”

The Mid-East Regional will be held at Jaycee Park in Reidsville on Friday and Saturday.