When the 2013 girls tennis season started, the head coach of the Exeter High School girls' tennis team Abby Rutt had hopes that her team could make it to the Berks League playoffs. But her main goal was to build a solid team that would be ready to make some noise next year.
As it turned out, they made a lot of noise this year by being the first Exeter girls tenis team to make it to the district championship match when they took on Manheim Township Oct. 17.
Manhein Township proved too much for the Lady Eagles, defeating them in the district title match, 3-0.
"I'm ecstatic that our girls made it to the District 3-AAA championship match,' said Coach Rutt "To be honest, we never thought we'd actually get that far this season. Our goal was to make it into the county playoffs, and build from there for next year. So the fact that we not only qualified for districts, but made it to the final match, was really kind of surreal. And knowing that we are the first Exeter girls tennis team to ever make to the final match is incredible, and has motivated us even more to go for the gold next season. My girls worked harder this year than ever before, and they absolutely deserved to be at that final.'
Exeter's number three singles player, Corinne Grohoski, lost a 6-1, 6-0 decision to Manheim Central's Doris Simic. The Exeter doubles teams of Libby Timura and Sai Kurapati (6-0, 6-0), and Rayne Ruoff and Elizabeth Kennedy (6-0. 6-2), also lost their matches.
Ali Snyder, Exeter's number one singles player, was behind in her match, 6-2, 1-4, when Manheim Township clinched the victory. Sammi Snyder, Exeter's number two singles player, was behind on her match, 6-1, 2-1, when the match ended.
"A loss is always disappointing, but we always tell our team to look for the positives, and learn from each match,' said Rutt. "Manheim Township is a consistently strong competitor and we knew this would be our toughest match yet. They have a very experienced team, and their depth through the line-up is a little bit stronger than ours. But now we know where we can improve and what we can work on, and we'll come back even stronger next year.'
The girls' will have a chance to come back strong this year also, as they begin play in the state team tournament on Oct. 22. The Lady Eagles will take on District two champion Abington Heights in the first round.
Whatever happens at the state tournament, it has been an amazing season for the Exeter girls. Coach Rutt couldn't be happier by the way it has turned out.
"The overall season was by far the most exciting for me in the seven years that I've been coaching,' said Rutt. "We have a team of truly inspiring young women who work hard, both on and off the courts, and have created a team bond stronger than any I've ever witnessed.
"We had some high expectations for this season, and our girls somehow managed to surpass all of them. Really, our post-season experiences this year have been icing on the cake after a fun, competitive, successful season.
"I'm not sure that I can pinpoint just one main contributing factor for our success this season. Obviously, our incoming class of freshmen played a big role, as three of our top five players are in ninth grade. We also have a group of girls that have really pushed each other and challenged each other to grow and achieve throughout the season. They were never satisfied with where we were. We always had to be better.
"We also made some major changes to the way we ran practices, the methods we used. Our workouts were more challenging and worked on the mental side of tennis just as much as they worked the physical aspects.'After going 5-0 and winning the Division 1 championship in the regular season, the Lady Eagles will head into the state tournament with an overall record of 16-3. If Exeter wins its first state match, they will head onto the quarterfinals on Oct. 25 at the Hershey Racquet Club.