Undefeated Region 4D champion Blacksburg dropped only three sets in ending Sherando’s girls’ tennis season 5-1 in Thursday’s Class 4 state semifinal match in Blacksburg.

The Warriors (17-4) earned a 6-1, 7-5 win at No. 2 singles from junior Maddy Woolever, but Blacksburg won four singles matches in straight sets before clinching the win at No. 4 singles. Raya Freeborn beat sophomore Addy Gannon 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 after the No. 3 doubles match had already started.

“They’re heavy hitters,” said Sherando girls’ tennis coach Trevor Johnson about Blacksburg in a phone interview. “They’re very consistent. They were solid all the way up and down, one through six. All of them could serve well. A couple of them would attack and come to the net whenever they could. They have a lot of depth.”

Woolever was able to handle her situation best with her victory over Emma Lawless.

“She was very patient,” Johnson said. “She was able to take the girl’s power and hit the ball back, which frustrated her. When [Lawless] decided she was going to try and come in and attack, Maddy just passed her. She passed the ball so well today, forehand, backhand, whichever. When [Lawless] made adjustments in the second set and it got closer, Maddy just became even more patient and was patient enough where [Lawless] would make mistakes.”

Others who fell in singles for Sherando were senior Alexa Venturato (6-0, 6-1 at No. 1), sophomore Emily Loy (6-2, 6-1 at No. 3), senior Katie Sommerfeld (6-3, 6-0 at No. 5) and senior Ashley Happel (6-1, 6-3 at No. 6).

“We battled today,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t unhappy with them.”

Despite the loss, Johnson had a lot to be pleased about this year. Sherando advanced to the state tournament for the third time in four years (the Warriors fell in the region semifinals last year) despite being without Venturato most of the year because of an injury. And the Warriors claimed the Class 4 Northwestern Tournament title by beating a Fauquier team that defeated them twice by 9-0 scores in the regular season.

“We played very well when [Venturato] was absent,” Johnson said. “We finished where we did because we had some young players step up, and that helped them with their experience.”

The Warriors will bring back three of their top four players next year.

“I think the big thing is they see now what they need to do if they want to be competitive and go further,” said Johnson, whose team played in the state final two years ago. “We’re a pretty young team. We’ve got two sophomores in the top four and a bunch of freshmen that improved immensely. We’ve got a good core for next year.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at


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