SKYLAND— Roberson will carry an 11-match winning streak into the NCHSAA 4-A dual team tennis playoffs.
The Mountain Athletic Conference 4-A champion Rams (14-1, 9-1), wrapped up the regular season Tuesday having already matched their number of wins from 2015.
Coach Buzz Cook is in his fourth year and has led the Roberson girls to four consecutive MAC championships.
Having five of six returning players from 2015 certainly helps Cook as he has been coaching five seniors (Cara Jansen, Jasmine Gallaway, Mafe Vergara, Sarah Interlicchia, Audrey Chor) since they were freshmen, some even before high school. These players have dominated the court for the Rams leading them back to the state playoffs for their final season together.
Going 14-1 overall takes the entire team’s commitment.
“They fight for each other and root for each other,” Cook said. “Running over and cheering on their teammates when their own match is over. Teammates encourage each other when seeing someone down, keeping the winning spirit going.”
The Rams lost their only match at Asheville High, 5-4 on Sept. 6. Roberson won the second meeting at home, 6-3.
Vergara (4-2) won the No. 5 singles match, 6-0, to help Roberson take a 5-1 lead heading into doubles. Interlicchia (6-0) and Paige Horner (2-1) secured the Rams’ victory with an 8-5 win at No. 3 doubles.
Earlier in the season during a scuffle at Watauga, the girls continued to “keep their head up.” After splitting the singles matches 3-3, the doubles teams for the Rams fought back.
Chor (6-3) and Byrd (9-2) took the No. 1 doubles match, 8-6. Ava Manley (12-0) and Abby Roberts (9-0) grabbed the second doubles match in a tiebreaker 9-8 (7-3), allowing Roberson to eventually take a 6-3 win.
Jansen, who is undefeated in singles (14-0, 2-2), is “the motor that keeps the team going,” Cook said. Jansen is one of four captains for the Rams.
Cook expressed Jansen’s passion.
“She does not like to lose,” Cook said.
“She gets the girls out on the court every practice and leads the team in stretching every day.”
Manley is a freshman who “has been a big help, winning every singles match and coming in to fill the spot of graduating senior Nicole Broeffle,” Cook added.
The Rams have not lost at home, going 6-0 in those matches to complete the season with some momentum heading into the playoffs. They dedicated a 9-0 shutout of Enka on Oct. 6 in Skyland to breast cancer awareness, wearing pink in the match and selling t-shirts for charity.
Cook said the team’s goal is “hoping to make it back to the (state) quarterfinals and hopefully further” for a “very emotional playoff run,” as it will be the five seniors’ last chance together.
The NCHSAA has told coaches that the start of the dual team playoffs has been pushed back to Oct. 25 due to flooding in the eastern part of the state.