Yvonne Peters-Washington started playing tennis when she was only 3 years old.
"My parents met on a tennis court, and I was born into a tennis family," the Central York High School senior said following practice on Tuesday.
Peters-Washington is 17 now, and the game she picked up as a child is still very much a part of her life as a teenager.
Along with playing on her high school team, Peters-Washington competes against elite players in the Middle States Section of the United States Tennis Association.
Peters-Washington is currently preparing for her final high school season, but it will be unlike any of her three previous seasons.
She'll be representing a new school, but most importantly, the woman who nurtured her and cheered for her for so many years won't be there.
Peters-Washington's mother died suddenly this past spring at the age of 49.
"She had developed diabetes, and I was scheduled to take her to the doctor that day, but she never woke up," Peters-Washington said. "I was looking forward to my senior year and having her there. It's sad, but I know she's watching."
Peters-Washington moved to York from State College in April to live with her father. She credits family, friends and teachers with helping her in the very difficult days following her mother's death.
"It was very hard, and I'll admit I was not in a very happy state when I moved down here," Peters-Washington said. "But it was better to move here closer to the end of the school year rather at the beginning of the new school year because it gave me a chance to make friends heading into my senior year. My father and stepmother were very supportive, the teachers were very understanding, and I had great friends and family who helped me get through it."
Peters-Washington is looking forward to playing for the Panthers, who are scheduled to open their season next Tuesday. She'll play at No. 1 singles, while Maddie Mummert, who played No. 1 last year, will be at No. 2. Mummert is just a sophomore.
"I've known Maddie for years from USTA," Peters-Washington said. "She's a really good player. The thing I love about high school tennis is that it's both an individual and a team sport. You develop a bond with the other players."
Successful junior year at State College: Peters-Washington is coming off a highly successful junior season, during which she captured the District 6-AAA singles title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the PIAA State Singles Championships. Her team, State College High, also won the District 6-AAA team crown.
Central head coach Brad Andrews said that Peters-Washington is a "really strong player."
"She hits the ball hard and has a down-the-line shot. She has a strong serve and likes it at the net," Andrews said.
Peters-Washington also works with some of her teammates on their games.
"If someone wants to stay after practice, I'll help them. I've had many years of lessons," she said.
Along with tennis, Peters-Washington enjoys painting and art and working with and teaching children. She plans a double college major of business and early childhood education, but hasn't yet selected a school.
Around the league: Peters-Washington is part of a Central starting lineup that could feature four seniors and a sophomore (Mummert).
The Panthers are setting their sights high in Division I, where Dallastown has dominated for more than a decade, including winning the last two seasons. The Wildcats will be formidable again (four returning starters), and the Central-Dallastown match, while it's early (Tuesday, Sept. 8), should have a major impact on the division race.
"It usually comes down to Dallastown and us," Andrews said.
As far as individual honors go, last year's Class AAA singles champion, Usha Baublitz of Susquehannock, graduated, but Laura Zielinski, of Northeastern, who finished second, is back this year.
Both the champion and runner-up from the Class AA singles tournament, York Catholic's Sarah Koury and Fighting Irish teammate, Catherine Vizzard, graduated.
Tuesday's match: In a girls' tennis match from Tuesday, Susquehannock rolled to a 7-0 victory over Hanover. Kristen Endres, Julianne Cassidy, Jessica McDonald, Molly Hogan and Jenny Sproul earned straight-set singles victories. Endres and Cassidy won at No. 1 doubles, while McDonald and Hogan took No. 2 doubles.
— Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.