St. Mary’s goal simply was to make it to the state championship games as a team. The Lady Tigers did so much more. Junior Emma Broadway won three heated matches at the state tournament. This included a tight, nail biter in the state quarterfinals before falling to heavily favored Christ Episcopal B. Powers 0-1 in the 2021 LHSAA Division IV, Region I championship match at the ULM tennis complex in Monroe.
“The girls battled. They left everything on the court,” said Coach Willie Paz. St. Mary’s became the first girls tennis team in Natchitoches history to finish state runner-up.
The duo doubles team of Zeina Younes and sister Yara Younes also helped St. Mary’s take the title. They also reached the semi-finals. On their way they defeated Westminster Christian Nezat/Lastrapes 0-0, Louise McGehee’s King/Beary 1-1 and Vermillion Catholic’s Romero/Fontenot 2-0.
Sheridan Pesnell and Maggie Gilmore appeared to be in control at #2 doubles when they won the first set 6-2, but St. Edmund’s Miller/Deville took the second set tie-breaker 7-6 and 10-8 for the third set.
Maggie Wheat and Mary Grace Long clinched their match with a 2-6, 7-5 and 10-5 over Avoyelles Public Center’s Belius/Armand. They were defeated in the next round by Brown/Waddell of Episcopal of Acadiana 6-0, 6-0.
St. Mary’s tennis team is the program’s first ever girls team to become the LHSAA State Championship Runner-Up. Zeina Younes, sister Yara Younes, Mary Grace Long and Maggie Wheat are students at the Louisiana School for the Math, Science and Arts that compete with the St. Mary’s tennis team.
“It’s a great feeling. I am so proud of the kids after everything that happened last year with Covid, and to come back without competing; it’s pretty awesome,” Paz said.
Pictured left to right: Zeina Younes, Sheridan Pesnell, Maggie Gilmore, Maggie Wheat, Mary Grace Long, Emma Broadway and Yara Younes.