The future looks bright for the Ashley Ridge girls’ tennis team.
The Swamp Foxes entered play last week hoping to take the lead in the race for the Region 8-AAAA championship but lost to Bluffton. Due to a prior win over the Bobcats, however, Ashley Ridge could still claim a share of the title.
“There was really only one difference in our two matches with Bluffton,” Ashley Ridge coach Andy Steingold said. “Our No. 2 player won the first time in three sets and lost the second time in three sets. But if our prior matches are any indication, we can still finish in a tie for first.”
Ashley Ridge improved to 10-3 with a 6-1 mark in region play Friday with a win over Fort Dorchester and only has three region matches remaining. If both the Swamp Foxes and Bluffton, which also only has one region loss, win out they will share the region crown.
That would mean both teams would open the playoffs with a home match. Ashley Ridge has won its first-round playoff match each of the last three years, but Steingold is hoping this year his team can advance beyond the second round.
“We have a solid team all the way down,” the coach said. “Bluffton is very strong and we’ve played them dead even so I think we have as good a chance as anyone. I’m optimistic. We are as strong as we’ve ever been and some of the other teams lost talent to graduation.”
Lauren Smith and Julia Lawton are the only seniors in the starting lineup for the Swamp Foxes this season so the success the team is having should not only carry into the playoffs but also carry into the next few seasons.
The No. 2 doubles team Ashley Ridge typically puts on the court is comprised of seventh-graders Natalie Blatner and Arianna Brim.
“They play a lot of junior tennis so while they are tiny, their strokes are tall,” Steingold said of the two Gregg Middle School students. “They have great top spin; they volley well; and they are a strong team.”
Other players who are seeing a lot of action for the Swamp Foxes this season include Bella Lawrence, Savanna Lawrence, Ali Blackmon, Megan Illsley and Maddie Kratzert.
This week, Ashley Ridge has matches against Beaufort and Summerville. Next Tuesday, the Swamp Foxes will close out their regular season with a match against Colleton County.
Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or firstname.lastname@example.org