|Eagles enter new season on the heels of a history-making year|
Franklin County junior Kayla Anderson, one of four returning juniors who begins her third varsity girls’ tennis campaign this spring for the Eagles, is shown in singles action during a 5-4 setback to Cave Spring in a non-district match played in Roanoke last year. FCHS, which reached the Group AAA state semifinals last year, opens its 2013 season Monday at home. (Staff Photo by Steven Marsh)
Friday, March 8, 2013
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
A year ago, Franklin County's girls' varsity tennis team won its first Northwest Region tournament match.
That victory ended Albemarle's two-year reign as Northwest Region champion and put the Eagles on a postseason course that ended in the Group AAA Final Four in Newport News on the first day of June.
The Eagles, a season removed from a 17-4 mark and a 5-0 loss to reigning state champion Langley in the Group AAA state semifinals, start a new campaign Monday when they entertain Group AA Hidden Valley at the Franklin County Recreation Park in Sontag.
Match time is 4:30 p.m.
Before last year, only baseball (1977), softball (1989) and wrestling (1995 and 1996) -- when Virginia crowned a dual team champion in Group AAA -- had reached the state semifinals.
The Eagles are the three-time reigning Western Valley District champions and the 2012 Northwest Region runner-up.
Because of approved Virginia High School League (VHSL) realignment and reclassification, the WVD will dissolve at the end of the spring sports campaign.
Thus, the girls' tennis squad will try to match the accomplishments of FCHS's golf, competition cheer and wrestling squads -- retire a WVD championship.
FCHS, coached by Mike Hagan, who begins his sixth year at the helm, returns four of its top six players from last year.
Each of those four players is a junior who is in her third year on the varsity squad.
Nora Ferguson, Leanna Carter, Kayla Anderson and Emily Philpott are FCHS's anchor performers.
Carter was undefeated (20-0) in singles last year.
FCHS's 17-win season is the best in school history. The Eagles started the year with a 7-2 triumph over Hidden Valley and that victory stopped a 34-match winning streak by the Titans, who entered the 2012 season as the two-time reigning Group AA state champion.
In 2007, the year before Hagan took over the coaching reins, FCHS won three matches.
Under Hagan, the Eagles are 57-24 with the three consecutive WVD titles, a Northwest Region runner-up effort, three region tournament showings and a state tournament appearance to their credit.
At one point last year, FCHS won 11 straight matches.
FCHS also will host Group AA Cave Spring in the season's opening week.
The Knights were the only team to defeat the Eagles during regular-season play last year. Both matches were decided by 5-4 scores.
Cave Spring won last year's Region IV championship. Its season ended in the Group AA state quarterfinals.