The Charlotte Catholic girls’ tennis team has become the standard for success in 3A, winning four of the past six state championships (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012) and six over the past decade (also 2003, 2004).
Coach Jo Cabana has been the architect of that run, guiding the Cougars to 184 wins and only 36 losses during that span.
But this year, Catholic will take on a new challenge as the Cougars move up to 4A with traditional powers like Ardrey Kell and Providence in their own conference, the new South Charlotte 8.
“Our goals are still the same regardless of what classification we are in,” Cabana said of trying to win another state title in her 11th season as Catholic’s coach. “I know 4A is going to be different, but I don’t feel like we are trying to climb Mount Everest with flip flops. We’ve played the Ardrey Kells, the Myers Parks and the Providences every year anyway. Now, there is just going to be a little more at stake when we play.”
Charlotte Catholic isn’t the only Observer tennis team on a championship roll, as Providence Day and coach Ryan Harper goes for their fifth straight N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A championship. Among 2A public schools, Salisbury will go for a sixth straight state title. And Statesville Christian and coach Tim Burgiss have the longest state championship run of all. They hunt to win their 10th straight NCISAA 1A team crown.
At Catholic, Cabana has another strong roster with Grace Deering and Rachel Tomchin entrenched in the Nos. 1 and 2 singles spots, respectively, as both enter their fourth years among the Cougars’ top six (singles).
Deering and Tomchin, who also were 3A state doubles runner-up, will be tough to beat, setting the tone for the rest of the lineup.
But Cabana said Nos. 3-6 and beyond will be a daily battle for now with senior Molly Leonard, the only other regular starter returning.
However, senior April Purvis, juniors Ally Braccia, Clair Givens, Lucy Green and Audrey Kessel as well as freshmen Megan Leonard (Molly’s sister) and Rachel Marthinsen all have the talent to crack the lineup and will get their opportunity to do so.
“It’s really going to be a battle just to be in the top six,” Cabana said. “I think that will be good for this team and help us get better. But I always tell our girls, ultimately we aren’t competing against, we are working to make our team the best it can be. The bottom line is what the team accomplishes.”
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