Blair's girls' tennis team came into this season focused on one goal: staying in Division I. Still stinging from last season's winless campaign in Division I, the Blazers came into a Sept. 21 showdown with division rival Magruder hungry for success and came away with the victory that would eventually keep them in Division I for another year.
However, the 6-1 trouncing of the Colonels was the team's only divisional triumph and the Blazers consistently found difficulty with higher quality opponents. Their 1-6 divisional record and 6-6 record overall was proof of a mediocre season that, despite one major accomplishment, was only a small step in the right direction.
Blair's strongest position overall was the first doubles team of juniors Jahnavi Bhaskar and Dominique Franson. The tandem worked like a well-oiled machine, gobbling up volleys and spitting them back at helpless opponents. Bhaskar and Franson entered the county tournament seeded third and were looking to make a run at the county championship. However, following an opening round victory over Rockville, Bhaskar and Franson lost a closely contested decision to Whitman 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
In the Regional tournament first singles player junior Stephanie Paul lost to an opponent from Churchill in the second round.
Paul said that staying in Division I was paramount, and she considers this season a successful one because the Blazers achieved this goal. "I'm very proud of the team for staying in Division I because I must admit I had my doubts," Paul remarked. Still, she added that the team felt frustrated with the close losses near the season's end. "When it came to some of the really close matches, in all honesty, we choked," said Paul.
Despite minor disappointments this year, Ngbea sees potential for his team next year but stresses that gains need to be made in the off-season in order to make significant strides against tougher opponents. "If we want to be successful in Division I, [the players] need to go out and hit the ball during the off-season. I strongly suggest we don't hang up our rackets," said Ngbea. And with a solid core of eight starters returning in 2005, Ngbea's message is clear: A little hard work could reap great rewards.
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