For someone who is accustomed to finishing first, York Catholic girls' tennis standout Anna Spoden's senior season has been filled with a lot of lasts.
It started with her last first-day of preseason practice. Then on Tuesday night at Springettsbury Park, the reigning York-Adams League Class AA champion played in her last home match of her outstanding career.
It was an emotional afternoon for Spoden and her five fellow Fighting Irish senior teammates preceding their Division II clash with rival York Suburban. The six girls literally had the red carpet rolled out for them as they walked past the underclassmen while coach Paige Mundy read their final introductions.
"That was awesome," said Spoden, moments after her team
"All of the underclassmen did a great job of organizing Senior Night and everything. They put a lot of work into it."
Mundy enjoyed her role as emcee of the ceremonies and felt it was a fitting way for her six upperclassmen to end their home high school careers.
"The seniors walked through a walkway as the underclassmen held their rackets in a bridge," Mundy said. "They were announced with their parents and I noted their career highlights as well as their YC tennis memories. It was emotion for all involved."
The emotion was a little bittersweet for Spoden, who has been around the tennis team for the past six years. She recalled watching her older sister, Ava, play while she was still in middle school before ascending to the varsity team herself as a freshman. It was hard to believe that her time around the team is really drawing to a close.
"It's really sad to see it ending," said Spoden, who remained unbeaten in the team part of singles action over her entire high school career. "This (team) has been really special to me, but it was also exciting to spend time with the team and to celebrate together and to relive memories. We had pictures and we could laugh and remember all the good times together."
Spoden, however, is hoping there are still a few more memories yet to be made in her final campaign. The victory over Suburban (6-1) clinched at least a tie for the Division II title for the Fighting Irish (7-0) with just one match against Biglerville on Thursday left in the regular season.
In a few weeks, Spoden and company will look to end their reign by claiming the school's first District 3 Class AA title. This year the team tournament will be seeded entirely by the district's new power rating system with the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals on Oct. 11.
While Spoden knows it won't be easy to make history with perennial power Wyomissing at the top of the draw, the left-handed Fighting Irish star is confident.
"It's going to be difficult," she said. "We're going to have to work really hard and play really well, but we'll see what we can do."
Spoden had no trouble against Suburban's Abby London at No. 1 singles as she rolled to a 6-0, 6-0 triumph. Teammates Maddie Kepner (6-4, 6-1), Sarah Koury (6-3, 6-1) and Emily Javitt (6-1, 6-1) also claimed victories in straight sets while Kathryn Thomas survived a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 battle against Nikki Spaulding.
Spoden and Kepner teamed up to earn an 8-0 victory at No. 1 doubles, while Javitt and Katti Defelice rolled to an 8-2 triumph in No. 2 doubles.
OTHER GIRLS' TENNIS
SUSQUEHANNOCK 5, NORTHEASTERN 2: At Manchester, Susquehannock maintained its perfect record in Division I by capturing four of the five singles matches. The Warriors clinched at least a tie for the division title. Katie Wagner, Adriana Bullaj, Usha Baublitz and Chelsey Simmers earned singles points for the Warriors who are 7-0 in league action. Susquehannock's Jenni Ferg and Luck Kalista teamed to win the No. 1 doubles matches. Julia Mihukro earned a singles point for Northeastern at No. 4, and Mihukro combined with Laura Zielinski to win No. 2 doubles.
CENTRAL 7, RED LION 0: At Red Lion, Emily Kuhn, Dilina Patel, Leah Chiaverini, Morgan Swartzbaugh and Felicia Roppelt scored straight-set singles victories for the Panthers. The teams of Kuhn and Taylor Strausbaugh and Patel and Kelly Hartzell won in doubles.
NEW OXFORD 7, DOVER 0: Sarah Rudasill, Brett Demi, Ashley Norton, Kristi Teal and Rachel Storm all won their singles matches convincingly. Emily Groft and Alyssa Martz teamed up to defeat Mia Becker and Bri Crone in a close doubles match, 8-7. Jenna Doran and Madison Coppersmith teamed up to win the final doubles match, 8-1.
KENNARD-DALE 5, WEST YORK 2: At Fawn Grove, the Rams clinched the victory by winning four of the five singles matches. Jess Wernig, Alyssa Miller, Cecilia Oliveros and Evan Boone gained the singles points. Miller triumped 6-0, 6-0, at No. 2. Brianna Bennett and Becky Feveryear captured the No. 2 doubles match for Kennard-Dale. Emily Wood earned a victory at No. 4 singles for West York, and Olivia Purtell and Gabby Amspacher teamed to take the No. 1 doubles match.
DALLASTOWN 6, SOUTH WESTERN 1: At Hanover, the Wildcats received straight sets singles victories from Emily Westenberger, Danielle Lucabaugh, Amanda Shapiro and Artika Saharan to secure the York-Adams League Division I win. In doubles, Westenberger combined with Lucabaugh to win the No. 1 match, while Shapiro and Emily Kistler combined to win the No. 2 match. For the Mustangs, Rachel Fabrick won a singles match.