Girls varsity tennis team loses to Madison in regional semifinals

Close matchup against Warhawks leads to postponed matches in which the Highlanders narrowly fall short of finals


Alexa Sribar

Members from McLean and Madison’s tennis teams discuss terms for continuing the postponed matches on Tuesday.

On Tuesday May 23, the McLean girls’ varsity tennis team took their racquets and visors to James Madison High School for their Regional semifinals. They meant business, focussed on one goal: to make it to states, like they did during the 2021-2022 season.

“Madison is a really tough team,” sophomore Cara Goethert said. “They gave Oakton, who have been state champs for the last two years, a serious run for their money during the regular season. It’s a tough matchup for us.”

Going in with a 12-2 record and their 2022-2023 season on the line, the girls went into their matches with confidence and fire. 

“Our record is supporting our fighting mentality because we’ve only lost to Langley this year,” Goethert said. “During the regular season, Madison lost to Langley 7-2 and we lost to Langley 5-4, so we know we can beat Madison.”

The singles match against McLean’s top player junior Vanessa Popescu and Madison’s senior Simone Bergeron, who had placed first in the state during the 2021-2022 season, was easily the most exciting. 

Popescu won the first set, playing with cool confidence despite her intimidating opponent. However, in a neck-in-neck second set, she lost to Bergeron, leading to a high-stakes tie-breaker. Despite her best efforts and support from her teammates on the benches, Popescu was beaten by the Warhawk. Out of the first five singles matches, the match between both schools’ top players lasted the longest, stretching for over two hours. 

However, despite this loss, the Highlanders remained in high spirits, as McLean’s junior Hannah Lin, senior Dia Aurora, and sophomore Lauren Wood all won their singles matches. But with losses from the Highlanders’ freshman Katelyn Gray and senior Sasha Tran, the overall score was 3-3, leaving the pressure on the next three doubles matches. 

However, shortly after a win from Tran and Aurora in their doubles match and midway through Popescu and Lin’s doubles match, a call to postpone the remaining matches was made due to Madison’s lack of an appropriate lighting system for their courts. It was decided that the two remaining matches would be continued the next morning during school hours at Madison. 

“It [was] obviously very frustrating because we were fighting hard and we had our momentum,” Goethert said. “And it was especially frustrating for the rest of the team because we couldn’t all skip school and come out to support our players.”

The next morning, on Wednesday, May 24, doubles partners Popescu and Lin as well as Wood and Gray walked back onto Madison’s courts to fight for their team’s advancement into regional finals. 

Both matches went to a third set tie-breaker, with Popescu and Lin barely losing with a score of 9-11 and Wood and Gray losing 7-10. With these losses, the final score between McLean and Madison was 4-5, casting a tight end to the season for the Highlanders’ girls varsity tennis team.  

“It’s really upsetting that we lost, because we really wanted to go to states again this year,” Goethert said. “We’re also losing two of our top six players and our coach next year. I’ve bonded with this team a lot this year so it’s sad that our season has ended.”