The Eastern Alamance High women’s tennis team completed its regular season last week, and is now prepping for the upcoming Mid-State Conference Tournament, which will be held Friday at the Burlington Tennis Center. The Eagles, who won the Mid-State Conference title in the fall of 2019 but were forced to wait a year and a half to defend their league title, have been going through a rebuilding season under head coach Tom Booth. After losing much of the talent from its league title squad, the Eagles have won three matches this spring heading into the postseason, including a huge triumph over Mid-State regular season champion Northern Guilford.
“It’s been going surprisingly well. We’ve lost a bunch of close ones,” Coach Booth told the Enterprise recently. “Those scores are kind of common this year in our conference. With all the new players, and the improvement they’ve made, I can’t be more happy in the improvements that we’ve had, because we have three kids who have never played tennis before. So that’s impressive on their part.”
The Eagles have been led by No. 1 singles player Rocio Rosa, who has put together a perfect 7-0 record in single play as a sophomore, along with senior Hannah Hawks, who posted a 4-3 singles record in the regular season. Along with being the team’s top two players, Hawks and Rosa have provided critical leadership for this young squad.
Rosa has proven herself this spring to be the top overall singles player in the Mid-State Conference, winning 14 consecutive sets without a loss. Four of her sets were 6-0 shutouts, while six more were by dominant 6-1 scores. Only two opponents managed to win four games against Rosa, but she won both sets by a score of 6-4. Although Hawks lost to Amelia Weaver of Western Alamance 3-6, 4-6, she defeated Western’s Avalyn Ward 6-2, 6-2. She also defeated opponents from Rockingham County twice, including a 6-0, 6-0 shutout of Kelly Carter, to go along with her huge singles win over Northern Guilford.
“Hannah is our only senior, and she’s a quiet leader. She has good work ethic. She was a soccer player, which is why we had to do a lot of rescheduling. But Rocio has really taken over the leadership role, being in the No. 1 spot. But not just because she’s the No. 1. She’s a natural leader type of person. I’m real proud of her,” Booth said.
The highlight of the season thus far was Eastern’s stunning road victory over Northern Guilford, who won the Mid-State regular season title this spring. On May 25 the Eagles traveled to Greensboro and handed the Nighthawks their only loss thus far. This marks the second straight season that EAHS has beaten Northern Guilford in women’s tennis action. And while the Nighthawks came to Mebane the following day and exacted revenge on the Eagles with a road victory of their own, the triumph over NGHS proved just how far this team has come in a short period of time.
“They fully expected to lose the match bad,” Booth explained of the first Northern Guilford match. “But I gave them a little pep talk before the match. I told them we needed their “A” effort. Good things can happen, and you never know. Well, about halfway through singles, our 1, 2, and 3 are winning. And I called them over to the fence on the switch, and I did the same comment to all three of them. I said, ‘I guess Goliath ain’t that tough, is he?’ And you ought to have seen their eyes light up. I saw a change in their expression that was pretty amazing. And that carried over into the doubles.”
While Rosa defeated Northern’s Carmen Wallace by an impressive 6-2, 6-1 score, Hawks knocked off Mallory Parr 6-4, 6-2 in the No. 2 singles match. Audrey Hupman, Eastern’s No. 3 player, also picked up a huge win, defeating Megan Mascia 7-5, 6-4. A pair of doubles victories led the Eagles to the big victory over the Nighthawks, as Rosa and Hupman defeated Wallace and Parr 8-3, and Hawks and Sarah Delario knocked off Mascia and Sophia Davis, 8-2.
“We played back-to-back against the No. 1 team in the conference. You can’t get much more of a confidence booster than knocking off the top dog. It shows what’s possible. And the new players are now getting experience, and starting to execute on some things that were foreign to them at the beginning of the season. We’ll be better at the end than we were in the beginning, and I’d rather it be that way that the other way around,” said Booth.
Eastern’s other victories this spring were a pair of 5-4 triumphs over Rockingham. The Eagles suffered a disappointing pair of setbacks 5-4 and 6-3 to Western Alamance, a 6-3 loss to McMichael, and an 8-1 loss to Northern Guilford in the rematch following Eastern’s upset of the Nighthawks.
Eastern’s No. 3 singles player, Audrey Hupman, finished the regular season with a 4-3 record, with wins over McMichael and Northern Guilford, and two triumphs over Rockingham. In addition, EAHS’s No. 1 doubles team of Rosa and Hupman finished 4-1 overall in the regular season, losing only to Northern Guilford in a tough 9-7 setback.
Following the Mid-State Conference tournament on June 11, the Eagles will wind down the season with the NCHSAA Mid-State Regionals, also to be held at the Burlington Tennis Center on June 18-19.