Bucs reverse fortune for tennis title

Charlotte Country Day snapped rival Providence Day’s four-year state championship streak on Oct. 26, when the Bucs claimed the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association title, beating the Chargers 5-1.

The 2013 NCISAA champion Country Day tennis team

The 2013 NCISAA champion Country Day tennis team

The battle for the state crown looked a lot like the end of the 2012 season, when Providence Day edged Country Day, 5-4. But the Bucs were eager for vindication this year and provided a different outcome, claiming the title and finishing their season with an impressive 19-2 record.

“Last year’s loss belonged to last year,” coach Calvin Davis said. “This year’s victory belonged to the players of this year’s team. Although many were returning from last season, we never really discussed last season’s loss. It was really about where we wanted to be this season.”

Country Day downed Charlotte Latin, 7-2, and Cary Academy, 8-1, to get to the championship match and a battle against Providence Day. The doubles’ duo of Ishana Nigam and Rachel Carroll grabbed the first win for the Bucs, closely followed by Aletta Ryan and Julia Loesch, to give the Bucs a 2-1 lead after doubles’ play ended. In singles, No. 2 seed Avery Hunter, No. 4 seed Rachel Carroll and No. 6 seed Kylie Mahar toppled their Providence Day opponents, putting the Bucs ahead in singles’ play, 3-0.

With no way for the Chargers to make a comeback, the Bucs took the match 5-1 and were crowned state champions.

Although No. 1 seed Lara Handelsman dropped her singles’ match, 6-4, 6-2 to Providence Day’s tough Alexandra Lee, she proved to be an integral part of the Bucs’ success during the regular season. Both Nigam and Aletta Ryan were up on their singles’ opponents when the match was called.

The victory was Davis’ 13th state title at Country Day. Davis is now in his 23rd year as the girls tennis coach and recently earned his 300th career win when the Bucs toppled Providence Day in regular season play on Oct. 2.

“I said to the girls after winning, ‘I’m so happy and proud for you. You did what no one thought could be done by you.’ This shows what they can do when they believe and stay focused on the task at hand,” Davis said.

The Bucs relied heavily on their powerful singles’ play and depth throughout the season, with top-notch players occupying all six starting seeds.

“I counted on everyone on the team,” Davis said. “Our team was well-balanced, as is evident by our singles play, which dominated most of our matches. Most of our matches were by scores of 8-1 and 7-2.”

Handelsman and Hunter both made the NCISAA 3A girls tennis all-state team.

The Bucs hope to be just as powerful next year, and already have their eye on a consecutive title. Handelsman, the sole senior, will be graduating, but Country Day will have 11 returning players to keep their depth in tact.

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