WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County women’s tennis team met Alleghany High School at home Tuesday, Aug. 20, shutting out its opponents by a score of 9-0.
In singles, all six of Ashe’s top seeds shined on the courts, only allowing three points to collectively be scored by Alleghany in all 12 sets.
“I was very pleased with how we performed, particularly since we were only able to get on the new courts the week before,” Coach Larry Dix said.
In the weeks leading up to the start of the season, the Lady Huskies were practicing on the two courts located at Ashe County Park, where Dix said there wasn’t enough space for each of the team’s 20 players to take part in challenge matches.
With only one week to practice on Ashe County High School’s new courts, which include a total of six courts and a newly painted purple finish, Dix said the team was still in the middle of challenge matches and trying to work out the seeding order before Tuesday’s match against Alleghany.
“I was a little anxious to see how they would play in a real-match situation,” Dix said, adding that he was pleased with the result of the match.
Dix said that he has focused heavily on deliberate control of the ball up and down the alleys and cross-court during practices, which he said paid off during the matches.
Ashe’s No. 1 seed, Elizabeth Wallace, won in two sets against Alleghany’s Laney Miller, putting up six points in each set while shutting out her opponent during the match.
Dix said he was especially impressed with Wallace’s performance throughout the match. Last season, Wallace was Ashe’s No. 6 seed and finished with only one loss for the season.
“I knew she had the ability, and I knew she was going to move up,” Dix said, “but she has really made a lot of progress this year.”
Molly Rupard, the No. 2 seed, also won in two sets against Lindsey Evans. Rupard won by scores of 6-1 and 6-0.
The No. 3 seed for Ashe, Karoline Keith, faced Alleghany’s Morgan Newgent, defeating her opponent by scores of 6-0 and 6-2. Dix noted that Keith was unable to play last season due to an injury, but is back and playing well.
Sarah Corley, Leigh Mckenzie and Hannah York, Ashe’s No. 4, 5 and 6 seeds, respectively, each shut out their opponents, winning their matches by scores of 6-0 in two sets.
For doubles, Wallace and Corley faced Miller and Evans of Alleghany, winning the match by a score of 8-1. Rupard and Keith went up against Newgent and Macy Beth Burgess from Alleghany, securing the win by a score of 8-0. Mckenzie and York also shut out their opponents, winning by a score of 8-0.
This season’s Lady Huskies tennis team is made up of several returning players, with a significant portion of the team being juniors that have played on the team since their freshmen year, Dix said. He added that there are at least ten strong, reliable players on this year’s team.
“I think we’ve got a little bit of depth,” Dix said.
Last year’s No. 1 player, Ashley Dollar, underwent knee surgery during the summer, which leaves Ashe without its 2018 conference champion and regional contender. Dix said Dollar has not yet been cleared to play, but will be returning soon.
“That’s a big impact when you lose your number one player,” Dix said, “but we don’t want her to come back too early.”
With the goal of winning the conference championship, Dix said he is feeling confident in the Lady Huskies. He added that he also plans for the team to secure the conference division, which they have done for the past several years.
“We’ve got a good shot at it,” Dix said. “If they keep progressing and working hard like they’re doing right now, I think we could surprise everyone.”
Ashe’s match against Elkin on Thursday, Aug. 22, was cancelled due to weather. Dix said a makeup date has not yet been determined.
Up next, the Lady Huskies will face North Wilkes at home on Tuesday, Aug. 27, starting at 4 p.m. followed by another home match against Watauga on Wednesday, Aug. 28. Ashe will then travel to Wilkes Central on Thursday, Aug. 29.