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50 for 50: Norwalk seniors stay perfect

By JAKE FURR Reflector Sports Editor jakefurr@norwalkreflector.com • Oct 6, 2016 at 5:30 PM

The last time the Norwalk girls tennis team lost a Northern Ohio League match, no current member was even in high school.

A streak that dates back four years, the Truckers rallied off 50 consecutive NOL match wins as the conference comes to a close at the end of this season. The only thing stopping the streak is the end of the NOL.

Four seniors have never felt the sting of defeat in an NOL match. Kaitlyn Stoll, Anessa Berry, Raeanna Ramos and Mya Ray leave a legacy at Norwalk that will be felt for a long time on the tennis courts and they can say they contributed to the fact Norwalk’s 50 match win streak will live on forever in NOL glory.

“We just work really hard so it doesn’t really surprise me that we reached that number,” Stoll said. “We work incredibly hard over the summer. We pick it up in May. I got done with softball season and picked up my racket. The 50 is really cool. I don’t think it has ever happened besides in volleyball. It is fun to be a part of the success.”

In 2016, the Truckers won their fourth consecutive undefeated NOL title after beating Willard 5-0 on Monday. As impressive as that was, it may not have been the most impressive thing the Truckers have accomplished this season.

In September, the Truckers competed in the NOL team tournament. The Truckers swept all five positions — first, second and third singles and first and second doubles — for another historic day. The entire starting squad earned first team All-NOL honors. Stoll and Berry won their third straight first team honors while Brooke Fries and Ramos earned their second. Megan Berry, Ray and Jordan Gran all earned their first honors.

“It just means we are very consistent and work very hard,” Anessa Berry said. “Everyone has been able to stick together and develop the chemistry as a team to be this good. It is very cool to close off the NOL like this. It makes me incredibly proud just because we have put in a lot of sweat and tears into tennis.”

The feat and the 50 match win streak still hasn’t set in for Ray, a first year varsity player as a senior.

“It is kind of unbelievable to me because this is my first year on varsity,” Ray said. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but everyone really prepared us. Past players came back to help us get ready. It blows my mind because when we play, we don’t think about it. We did something unbelievable.”

Stoll and Berry have been the staples of the Norwalk program for four years, but things didn’t come as easy for Ray and Ramos. The dynamic doubles team who earned a Top 4 seed in Thursday’s sectional tournament finally found a full-time spot in the rotation and have not disappointed.

“It mean a lot because this is the first time we have been able to play on varsity together,” Ramos said. “I am very proud of how she has developed into a great tennis player. We play very well together. We practice a lot on our communication and we have very quick reaction.”

Head coach Chris Higgins admits the success of his individuals is all because they buy into the team mentality.

“One thing that has helped us in every match is our depth,” Higgins said. “When you have more players than the other team, you are able to develop more depth and as time goes on eventually you get enough varsity players and they go out and win. It is quite a luxury when you can rotate girls around to other positions and it helps that they are willing to do it. When they are not willing, the whole team aspect goes out the window. Our girls have accepted the team concept and are willing to play where ever.”

As much as Higgins gives credit to his team, Stoll cannot help but to point back to Higgins.

“We have such great coaches to take us there,” Stoll added. “We wouldn’t be here without Mr. Higgins, Mr. (Dave) Rehnborg or Mr. (Ray) Scheid. Our whole teams success is thanks to them.”

The other members of the Norwalk tennis team along with the seniors have yet to feel a conference defeat. With a move to the Sandusky Bay Conference next season, Berry had simple advice for the underclassmen to continue the success they have experienced already.

“They just need to stay united as a team,” Berry said. “Be interactive and get to know each other. Bond together because that is very important to competing together and winning together.”

For Ray, she is just hoping to change some minds about the sport.

“It makes me very proud of our team and our school,” Ray said. “It seems like nobody really cares about tennis except for the tennis players, so to make a name for ourselves is really nice.”

Twitter: @JakeFurr11

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