Twifords power Northeastern girls tennis into postseason
Conference tournament at NHS begins today
By Malcolm Shields
Monday, October 9, 2017
Ashlyn and Madeline Twiford were somewhat of late bloomers to the game of tennis.
The sisters said that they picked up the sport when they began at Northeastern High School.
For the past two seasons, the sisters have been teammates on the Northeastern girls tennis team.
As for the 2017 campaign, both have been key to the Lady Eagles earning one of the two automatic bids from the Northeastern Coastal Conference into the NCHSAA Class 2A dual team playoffs, which begin on Oct. 18.
Last season, NHS did not earn a spot in the dual team playoffs.
Before the dual team playoffs begin, both will be on the court today for the first of two days of the conference tournament at Northeastern.
For Ashlyn, she said that the key to her success this season has been the ability to stay calm with having a positive attitude even when she has been down in matches.
Ashlyn, a senior, added that having Northeastern coach April Rowe Turner provide support has been helpful.
“Ashlyn is our captain,” Turner said. “She is pretty much the leader of this team.”
Ashlyn plays in No. 1 singles and has an 11-3 overall record this season.
“I've really enjoyed being able to be someone that the younger girls can look up to,” Ashlyn said. “I've tried to be a good role model for them.”
Ashlyn added that improved consistency has been key for her in singles this season.
For Madeline, the biggest improvement she has seen from last season to this fall was also consistency along with better striking and placement of the ball.
Madeline, a sophomore, admitted that it was rough learning the game, but noted that she was able to catch up quickly because of her athleticism.
What does Madeline enjoy most about tennis?
“Winning,” she said with a laugh.
The sophomore has won a lot this fall as she went 11-1 during the regular season in singles.
“She stepped up big this year filling in the bottom half of our lineup,” Turner said.
Madeline with her doubles partner Ellie Hornthal were 12-2 overall with a 9-2 record in the league, while Ashlyn and teammate Olivia Sanders posted a 6-6 overall mark and a 6-2 record in conference in No. 1 doubles.
The sisters' experience as teammates has been unique.
“It's been really fun,” Ashlyn said. “We've definitely had our ups and downs, but she's helped me push myself and I’m there to push her to do her best.”
Although the sisters have not been paired in doubles this season for NHS, they did get that opportunity during a tennis camp at the University of North Carolina this summer.
Madeline noted that the competition at the camp was intense.
“I thought we kept up pretty well,” she said.
Turner has witnessed the improvement in play along with the relationship of the sisters on and off the court.
“They have that sister bond,” Turner said. “They are going to support one another. It's always fun to watch them play. I have two girls, so it's a glimpse into my future.”
First Flight won the regular-season title with an 11-0 overall record and a 10-0 mark in league play and has a chance to have athletes earn spots to the in 2A East Regional for individual singles and doubles next week.
Northeastern (12-2, 8-2 NCC) finished second in the league with their losses coming against First Flight.
Turner has been pleased with the Lady Eagles' desire to win all season and has high expectations for the Lady Eagles during the conference tournament.
“I'm looking for them to come out and dominate,” she said.
Madeline and Hornthal are scheduled to play in singles, while Ashlyn and Sanders with Haidyn Fairweather and Emma Teachey are slated to be the doubles teams for NHS.
Currituck's Sarah Dover is the favorite to win the tournament singles title.
Dover, a senior, won the singles tournament crown last season and has not lost a match as the Lady Knights' No. 1 singles player in conference play this fall.
Dover is 15-1 in singles this season.
Hanna Holden is also expected to contribute for the Lady Knights at the tournament.
The doubles title will be up for grabs as the defending tournament champion John A. Holmes is in a new conference in Class 1A.
The league can advance three singles and three doubles players to the east regional at Greene Central on Oct. 20.
The John A. Holmes girls tennis team has two more matches remaining in its regular season, both on the road, before traveling to Manteo for the Albemarle Athletic Conference tournament on Thursday.
The Lady Aces (10-4, 3-0 AAC) face league foe Manteo today and Riverside-Martin in a non-conference match on Wednesday.
A win today and Edenton will secure a spot in the 1A dual team state playoffs as the conference champion.
For the league tournament, Edenton plans to have Jessica Copeland and Lilly Boyce in singles with the duos of Anna Bass and Emily Cross with Sydney Morris and Molly White compete in doubles.
The AAC will have two representatives in singles and two in doubles advance to the 1A East Regional at Frankln Academy on Oct. 20.