Warner helps pace MCS to top of tennis league

By John Bernhardt
Patience and persistence are a big part of James Warner’s tennis game. Fast and smart, Margaretville’s top ranked tennis player often bides his time, waiting for his opponent to serve up an unforced error.

Warner’s on-the-court delayed gratification was forged under fire as a young Margaretville tennis ace. Tennis employs a unique ranking system to order players for competition in a match. Each team assigns a ranking from one through five for individual matches. Those rankings are determined through heads-on play during practices. Teams work on an honor system, pledging not to manipulate their ranking to gain advantages during a match.

Interpreted, that means a young tennis ace, playing for a rebuilding program and ranked number one on his or her team, will be pitted against the best player of every team in the league. That was the case for a freshman James Warner in 2011 when he played in Margaretville’s top ranked slot.
Mounting losses can erode confidence and chip away at the spirit. It’s difficult to think forward and understand that better days are in front of you. Warner labored on, concentrating on his game and becoming a better tennis player.

Fast forward to the spring of 2013. As a junior and still holding Margaretville’s top ranking, Warner, has won all but one match, helped guide his team to a co-Delaware League tennis title, and is, perhaps, the best tennis player in the Delaware League. Warner faced Roxbury’s Josh Riley in Andes yesterday for the league’s individual championship.

Warner is one of a bevy of successful Blue Devils. Junior Brandon Belaski has a 9-2 record this year.
Classmates Mike Conroy and Annette Hogan are 10-3 and 12-1 on the year.

Margaretville’s tennis future looks bright with several underclassmen performing well. Three sophomores have turned in sizzling results this spring. Lindsay Day is 11-1, Rhiannon Kearns 12-2, and Yair Sanchez 11-2. Freshman Harrison Haynes went 10-2 on the season with Riley Ancona also launching his tennis career in her first year of high school.

Conroy and Sanchez teamed to reach the semi-finals in the doubles of last week’s league tournament. Kearns and Day reached the doubles finals in girls’ play.
Coach Jim Owdienko will take five players to compete in the Section IV C-D play-offs tomorrow in Bainbridge-Guilford. Warner will compete in singles with Belaski and Sanchez a double’s pair and Conroy and Haynes a second Blue Devils’ doubles’ pairing.