Lady Panthers look to defend state crown
By GEOFF STOUTE
BERWICK — The Berwick Lady Panthers’ tennis team is looking to defend its Division 3 state championship, while a member of the boys’ squad also will be entering state competition, which will begin Monday and continue Tuesday at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
The Lady Panthers’ contingent includes Mary Margaret Sanford and Claire Parsiola, who won the girls’ doubles title during regional play, as well as doubles’ runner-up Emma Gray and Allis Armato and Signe Parsiola in singles play.
Other qualifiers include the doubles team of Shereen Richard and Abby Ledet.
“I expected us to do well, but I was totally surprised and excited about how well we did,” Berwick tennis coach Gina Sanford said of the girls’ squad. “I got all eight of my girls going and all eight of them placed in order to go, so it wasn’t like our points carried some of our kids. Points had nothing to do with it. They all qualified, so I was really excited about that.”
From last year’s state title team, the squad returns the Parsiola sisters and the Sanford sisters.
A year ago, Claire Parsiola teamed with another sister who has since graduated, Anne Lee Parsiola, to win the state doubles championship.
The two Sanford sisters advanced to the state quarterfinals a year ago, while Signe Parsiola advanced to the state semifinals in singles’ competition, where she fell to eventual state champion Basia Walters of West Feliciana, who also defeated her in the region championship last week.
Coach Sanford said her teams’ experience at state from a year ago should help them this year.
“I think this year they had more tournament play,” she said. “They practiced a lot harder this year. I think that helped them, and I think they kind of knew more of what to expect this year.”
Still, Coach Sanford said she doesn’t think things will be easier this year as the competition will be tough and Berwick is a known contender.
“We’re excited,” she said. “We’re going to go in prepared.”
On the boys’ side, Berwick will send Andre Adams in singles’ competition.
Adams, who competed in regionals a year ago, had an unusual route to state this year.
After earning a first-round bye, his second opponent didn’t show up so he advanced to the quarterfinals.
While he fell in the quarterfinals, his next opponent didn’t show either, qualifying them for state.
Regardless of the route, though, Adams will be representing Berwick on the statewide level.
“It’s exciting,” Coach Sanford said of having someone from her young boys’ squad qualify.
She said that Adams has had a “pretty good season.”
In his preparations, he will be getting some help from Morgan City Tennis Pro Scott Rhodes, Coach Sanford said.
“He said he’s going to try hard to practice this week and get ready,” she said.