Hough seeks net gains at regional tournament
by Staff Writer
Hough High’s tennis players know the level of competition just got a lot tougher.
Five Huskies, led by I-MECK 4A conference singles champion Briana Bodner, qualified for the 4A Western Regional tournament Friday, Oct. 21, and Saturday Oct. 22, at South Mecklenburg High.
Bodner, who reached the regionals last year, doesn’t sugarcoat the opposition.
“The players are shockingly much better than what we’ve experienced in conference, even though there are high-level players there,” said Bodner, a junior. “At regionals, everyone’s trying to go to states. Everyone’s a year-round player and very strong. You’ve just got to go in there ready to play your best.”
Bodner won the conference title with a 6-1, 6-1 victory against Lake Norman’s Megan Mullen in the final. It avenged a regular-season loss.
“I was nervous,” Bodner said. “She was the only one I’d lost to during the season. I kept thinking about what strategies I had to use, and I just had to do the best I could.
“For me, the key was switching it up and staying consistent. Not going for too much too soon. Every point really counted.”
Hough coach Julie Fox said Bodner’s strengths are concentration and calmness.
“She stays focused,” Fox said. “We kind of joke around with it, because when she’s on the court, you don’t know whether she’s winning or losing. And she doesn’t dwell, which is a good thing. A lot of the girls will dwell on a point they’ve just lost, and it will affect them and they’re just deflated.
“Briana is very consistent. She’ll figure out the other player and out-strategize them. If she doesn’t get the first couple of games, it’s usually because she’s figuring out the other player.”
The other I-MECK regional qualifiers in singles are Mullen, Maggie Siebert (Mooresville), Jamie Michael (North Mecklenburg) and Gabby Lindsay (Mallard Creek).
Hough’s Morgan Marin and Riya Anand teamed to finish second in I-MECK doubles and also qualified for the regional. They lost a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 match to Lake Norman’s Constance Crisp and Sydney Rapier in the conference tournament final.
“We played well, but for us it was tough mentally because we’ve never lost (as a doubles team) before,” said Marin, a senior.
Said Anand, a sophomore: “We got into an ‘I don’t want to lose’ situation. We talked ourselves through it.”
Marin and Anand, Hough’s Nos. 2 and 3 singles players, entered the playoffs as a doubles team (players are limited to playing singles or doubles, but not both).
“Morgan has a great serve,” Anand said. “And I love to play at the net. With Morgan’s great serve, all you’ve got to do is jump over, poach (the shot), and you’re done. That’s what we’ve been doing all season.”
Fox and her doubles team agreed that losing in the conference final wasn’t devastating. A larger prize looms.
“Their camaraderie together and their talent together is what makes them good,” Fox said. “They’re incredible communicators. For them, the key will be walking the walk. They know what to do. It’s putting your game face on and doing it.”
Bodner upped her personal ante, too, and has been practicing mornings before school. That’s in addition to the afternoon practices.
“She’s tasting blood,” Fox said. “She wants to go to states.”
Hough’s doubles team of Allie Schurtrum and Jessica Horn also qualified for the regionals, as did Mooresville’s Kendell Henley and Olivia Thompson, and Lake Norman’s Britta Hulbers and Daniella Dworschak.