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Unified Tennis Team Volleys to Two Gold Medals and a State Title
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by Kylie McClung

photos by Kylie McClung

Walkersville High’s unified tennis team takes home the gold and the state title after a long, hard, and intense day at Towson University on Friday. Throughout the season, the team has worked hard and persevered through different challenges. The athletes have created relationships that will last a lifetime, while enjoying a sport they love.

The players and the coaches show an impeccable love and passion for one another, and truly have a good time on and off the court. Stakes were high at the state’s match. Athletes must be sure to always have fun and enjoy themselves, but also include the hunger and competitiveness that is inside them during the duration of the matches.

The athletes were given 40 minutes to compete in their match. A match consists of the best two out of three sets to determine the winner.

“I certainly am excited for my match. I’m excited to go out there and do my best, and take home the championship. We’ve made friendships this season, and it [unified tennis] is a great thing to do. Me and my partner have improved this season. We’ve persevered through multiple obstacles this season, but we’ll do great,” said sophomore Devon Harris. Harris’ partner is Nina Matthews and this is the second year of them being paired together.

When the students arrived to school and met together, a breakfast was served to them. The breakfast included donuts, bananas and other fruit, and their choice of juice or chocolate milk. This really helped energize and prepare the athletes for the long day ahead of them, and like they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

As the athletes arrived at Towson University, they began warm ups. Different teams from all over Maryland were sprawled around at different courts hitting tennis balls to each other and getting their game faces on. Coach William Scheetz huddled the team together to inform them that wind will be a big factor in their games today. Wind can make a perfectly good serve go out of bounds in a split second, so the players must adjust their hits according to the wind’s power and direction. The most important point Scheetz got across was to have fun.

After warm ups, the partners got together in their teams and found out key information for the day. The partners are as following: Herbert Matthews and Taylor Seabolt, Jameson Hahn and Drew Morhiser, Bradley Phelps and Jacob Fraley, Giovanni Penate and Carter High, Elizabeth Ortner and McKenzie Nugent, Michael Schnepfe and Dakota Lovejoy, Simon Mullarky and Dayah Scott, and Devon Harris with Nina Matthews. The team was accompanied by Debra Phebus, Jennifer Cassels, and Scheetz.

Tough matches and games were played, but overall, Walkersville stayed on top. Everyone was giving 100% and having fun.

“We played amazing. We played hard and worked as a team,” said sophomore Fraley.

“I think I played good. I think we’ll do fantastic in our next game,” exclaimed Matthews.

“My teammate Giovanni played an amazing game to lead the team to victory,” said sophomore High.

“I played excellent. I’m too good and I’m not surprised that I played well. The first game was more difficult than the second game. Me and Drew [Morhiser] have a good chemistry and every good team needs chemistry,” said Hahn.

“I played well. I played better in my second game than the first, because the first team was harder,” said Morhiser.

“I played really well. I won two games. I am the number one person in the world. I like tennis, I’ve played it for four years. This is my last year because I am graduating this year,” exclaimed Penate.

“The teams are playing hard and there is good competition. It’s a long day, but the kids are doing extremely well. They all play well with each other and enjoy it. The season went very well, and in districts they did very well also. Overall, they had an awesome season,” exclaimed Phebus.

“We did really good and we worked well together. The season went well. It was my first season and it went good! I’m going to play next year and I recommend it to everyone,” said Nugent.  

“I had so much fun this year in unified tennis, I met some amazing people. Throughout the whole entire season every single person gave it their all  and I’m truly proud of everyone for their hard work. Not only did my teammates show tremendous commitment but Coach Scheetz as well, I could not have asked for a better coach. He went above and beyond this season with his unconditional support. His pep talks and caring advice always got everyone pumped for their games. I am going to miss my partner Herbert Matthews and all of the fun times we had, and I can honestly say that I love my team and everyone on it,” said Seabolt.

Winners were announced at a closing ceremony. Both teams, Walkersville one and two, won in their divisions. Coaches and parents were very proud in the athlete’s effort and connection that they had during the games, and even just sitting around chatting.

This year is Scheetz first year coaching unified tennis. He thanked all of the players for helping him out and for just being awesome and playing hard and having fun.

“Thank you for being our coach. We wouldn’t have a good team without a coach,” said Hahn on the bus ride home from Towson.

It is not always about winning or losing, but it is about having fun and trying your best. Through different obstacles and outcomes, the unified tennis team continued to be supportive and connected to one another. Unified sports are an amazing example of how differences do not make us separate, but drive us together. Through new friendships and memories, to wins and loses, the athletes have amazing experiences from this season, and as Phebus said, “It was an awesome day to win two gold medals and a state title.” Congratulations to the Unified Tennis team for one amazing season and a state title!