Watching Dagney Markle play tennis on a recent afternoon was like viewing a clinic.
The New Oxford High School standout displayed the variety of shots which has earned her the No. 1 seed for the York-Adams League Class AAA Girls' Tennis Singles Tournament, which begins at 2 p.m. Thursday with the first two rounds at South Western High School. The Class AA event also starts Thursday at Red Lion High School.
Markle, a left-hander, pounded a service winner on one point and then followed with an angled forehand winner on the next point.
She showcased her variety of shots by also executing overheads, drop shots and slices.
Markle has honed her skills during countless hours of practice, both in the warm- and cold-weather months.
Tennis is unquestionably her favorite sport, but that wasn't always the case.
"I used to play field hockey and soccer," Markle said. "I went to the Tennis for Kids program here at New Oxford when I was young, but I never took it (tennis) seriously until my freshman year. My aunt plays tennis, and she got me out (for tennis), It seems like I have more a natural gift for tennis."
Markle, a senior, is hoping to close her York-Adams singles career with a gold medal. She earned the silver medal in last year's singles tournament, finishing second to Central York senior Yvonne Peters-Washington.
"I had a pretty good season to set up for that (making a run through this year's singles bracket)," she said. "I definitely feel I'm a lot more relaxed and a lot more patient going in this year. I'm also hoping to go a little further in the district tournament this year.."
New Oxford coach Travis Martin said that Markle made a "huge, huge" impact on the program.
"Her dedication and work ethic is beyond everyone else," he said. "The other players have also committed themselves to the program. When I arrived here 12 years ago, no one even knew that we had a tennis program. Now, we have crowds here at our matches, we finished second in the league for the first time ever and our girls' team qualified for districts for the first time ever."
Markle's been part of the Robotics Club during her time at New Oxford, along with the Varsity Club and People to People program.. She's planning to attend college next year and enroll in a biomedical program.
That's the future.
For the present, she's totally focused on the upcoming matches at South Western and her final York-Adams Class AAA Singles Tournament.
Notes: Dallastown's Christie Friedrich is seeded No. 2 in AAA, followed by Central York's Maddy Mummert at No. 3, Dallastown's Madi Reed at No. 4, South Western's Michaela Sentz at No. 5, Dover's Alex DiGiovanni at No. 6, Susquehannock's Jessica McDonald at No. 7 and Dallastown's Morgan Kistler at No. 8.
Bermudian's Brooke Yurick is seeded No. 1 in the AA field, followed by defending champion Alyssa Neudecker from Delone Catholic at No. 2. Yurick beat Neudecker during the regular season. Biglerville's Morgan Orndorff is No. 3, followed by York Suburban's Liv Pindzola at No. 4, Delone's Ellie Neudecker at No. 5, West York's Lydia Fairlamb at No. 6, Kennard-Dale's Brianna Miller at No. 7 and Kennard-Dale's Brooke Siebert at No. 8.
Friedrich and Reed are seeded No. 1 in the AAA league doubles tournament, which starts Monday. Mummert and Kara Holland are No. 2, followed by Markle and Kamdyn Balko at No. 3 and Sentz and Sabrina Lauer at No. 4.
The Neudeckers are No. 1 in AA doubles, followed by Orndorff and Mackenzie Bender at No. 2, Pindzola and Samantha Clancy at No. 3 and Siebert and Miller at No. 4.
The singles tournament quarterfinals and semifinals are set for Friday starting at 2 p.m., followed by the finals and consolation matches on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. All of the action on Friday and Saturday is at South Western.
The doubles tournament starts Monday with the first round and quarterfinals starting at 3 p.m. at South Western (AAA) and Red Lion (AA), followed by the semifinals and finals on Tuesday, again starting at 3 p.m. All of Tuesday's action is at South Western.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.