Home Local Sports Smith, Turner collect wins in season-opening loss for Lady Raiders

Smith, Turner collect wins in season-opening loss for Lady Raiders

No. 2 junior Hanna Smith returns a shot for a point in her singles win over Evie Eller on Wednesday. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — A day after its season was delayed due to the heat, the Richmond Senior High School girls’ tennis team kicked off its new campaign on Wednesday.

Starting their Sandhills Athletic Conference schedule, the Lady Raiders hosted Southern Lee High School.

Playing pro eight sets, Richmond suffered a 2-7 loss to the Lady Cavaliers. 

Earning the lone singles victory was junior Hanna Smith in the No. 2 match, while Smith and senior Neely Turner collected a No. 1 doubles victory.

“For our first match of the season, I’m pleased with how the team played today,” head coach Jessica Covington said. “Especially with the anticipation to play yesterday and having to deal with the heat again today.

“We are a young team that is still learning how to play our best tennis,” she added. “The girls need to continue to get more experience during matches to see the speed of the game and what we need to work on.”

The Lady Raiders only returned two starters from last season, with those players being No. 1 Turner and Smith. Richmond’s four other starters on Wednesday had either limited playing experience in past seasons or made their debut.

Playing on the upper courts, Smith rolled to an 8-3 victory over Evie Eller, having moved up two spots in the lineup from last season. 

In the No. 1 singles match, Turner nearly earned the win against Kate Jackson, falling 7-9 in the extra set.

Senior Neely Turner, shown playing in her singles match, added a win in doubles play with teammate Hanna Smith. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

No. 3  junior Madi Grimes and No. 5 senior Ella Scott each lost her respective match by a score of 4-8. Grimes played against C.E. Bryan, while Scott battled Logan Hickman.


Rounding out singles play were No. 6 freshman Colbie Covington and No. 4 sophomore Jentry Denson. Covington fell 1-8 to Gina DeCerbo and Denson lost 0-8 to Blaire Young.

“I’m really proud of all the girls and the effort they put in today,” Covington said. “Hanna did an awesome job getting her first win of the season while playing the No. 2 seed for the first time.

“It was also encouraging to see how well Neely and Hanna worked together as doubles partners. There were a lot of positives we took from today and will use this match to improve.” 

Southern Lee (1-0, 1-0 SAC) took two of the three doubles matches. Turner and Smith, who played their first doubles match together, added another tally to the board with an 8-5 win over Jackson and Young.

The No. 2 pairing of Grimes and Denson came up short 3-8 against Eller and Bryan, while the No. 3 duo of Scott and Covington lost 4-8 in their contest with Hickman and DeCerbo.

The Lady Raiders (0-1, 0-1 SAC) continue their first week of play with another home match against reigning SAC champion Pinecrest High School on Thursday.

Singles matches will begin at 4 p.m. followed by doubles matches.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.