North Coast shines through for sweet taste of victory
TENNIS: North Coast has taken out the New South Wales Combined High Schools Tennis Championships in emphatic style on their home courts at Grafton Tennis Centre.
After ploughing through the rounds undefeated, it appeared the hosts had met their match in Sydney North with all four doubles pairings slipping behind early in a rain-affected final on Thursday morning.
However, the team spirit rose to the fore, with three of those teams turning a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 victory (matches were reduced to first to four games due to rain delays).
Carrying a 3-1 lead after the doubles, the girls continued the momentum to win seven of the eight singles rubbers for a 10 sets to two win overall.
"They're solid tennis players from one down to nine and I think that's the key when you have such a large team," North Coast manager Kelly Blanch said.
"You need to have depth in the team, and these girls are good players and their enthusiasm throughout the three days has been fantastic.
"It's been a really long time," "I've been taking the girls away for about 10 years and the best we've done is bronze medal. We were trying to figure out when was the last time, it's probably been over 20 years."
Blanch said the Linabury Shield triumph was indicative of the current strength of junior tennis in the region, which was also highlighted by Grafton High's recent silver medal in the NSW CHS Girls Tennis Schools Knockout.
"We had five players from Grafton in the team, so Grafton itself is doing really well in tennis," she said.
"But just in this area in general there are some really good players coming through both in the girls and the boys. So this is basically just a sign of what's to come in future years."
In Year 12 at Grafton High, the North Coast side's captain Rachel Fahey was thrilled to be part of the victory.
"All the girls played really well and it was just so exciting after North Coast hasn't won in about 20 years," she said.
"We were kind of the underdogs, but after we moved through the first day undefeated we got a bit excited and thought we could definitely win if everyone tried really hard.
"All the girls formed really good relationships and were really good at supporting each other, which made it a comfortable environment for everyone to play as good as they can."