Steward Girls Tennis Wins State Title

First-ever state championship followed best-ever season of regular play

The Steward Varsity Girls tennis team won the VISAA Division II state tournament title on Nov. 9 in a 5-2 match against Norfolk Collegiate.

The team, six of whom are seniors (Anna Caplice, Lyndda Cevallos, Hannah Frank, Scottie Gilg, Julia Monroe, Sonali Sanjay), went into the tournament ranked number one in the state, following their best season in history. The girls have competed in the state tournament every year for the last four years, but this is their first state title.

“We have gained more and more desire to win over the past couple of years,” Monroe said. “After losing in the finals at states last year, we wanted it really badly this year and worked really hard. Being state champs is almost surreal. I’m so proud of our team and everything we’ve done. We finally got to our goal. It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to us.”

Monroe and Anna Pastore '21 led the team both as singles players and as the number one doubles team. As a doubles team, they didn’t lose a single match all season long.

“We [the whole team] were very focused this year,” Pastore said. “We set goals at the beginning of the season, including winning states, and we never doubted ourselves. We just wanted it more than we ever had.”

Kurt Hammerschmidt, who, together with Ed Shulman, coaches both boys and girls tennis, attributed the team’s success to “four years of super athletes, experience, commitment, and consistency. That’s what makes a great team.”

Hammerschmidt and Shulman’s boys tennis team won the state title in 2017 and 2018, making them the only coaches currently at Steward with three state titles. In the girls tournament this fall, Steward beat Virginia Episcopal School on Nov. 5 with a score of 5-0 in the first round of the tournament and beat Nansemond Suffolk on Nov. 8 with a score of 5-0 in the semifinals. The team had a regular season record of 15-2.

The fall athletics season was a successful one for all the Spartans. For the first time in history, all of the fall varsity teams made it to the state tournament — and performed well. At the state cross country meet, more than half the team PR’d (ran their best recorded time in that event). Volleyball, field hockey, and boys soccer all made it to the state semifinals, but unfortunately lost after exciting and highly competitive matches.

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