STAUNTON — With a dominating performance in singles, the Riverheads High School girls tennis team defeated visiting Windsor High School 5-0 in the Class 1 first round on Friday.
The Gladiators now move on to the state semifinals and will face Rappahannock-Warsaw on Monday at Gloucester High School.
Senior Jessica Milo won 6-3, 6-0 to get the Red Pride started at No. 1 singles.
Also winning were No. 2 sophomore Emma Staton (6-3, 4-6, 6-1), No. 3 freshman Gracie Fulton (6-1, 6-0), No. 4 sophomore Lauren Reese (6-2, 6-2) and No. 6 sophomore Jessica Gordon (6-2, 6-2). Lili Williams match at No. 5 singles did not have to finish.
"We've grown throughout the entire season," said seventh-year head coach Reuben Siskin. "We're much better this year and have a strong cohesive team with a strong ladder."
Last season, the Gladiators lost in state first-round to Rappahannock, so have advanced further this year.
Staton, at No. 2, won the clinching match, even though being pushed into a third set.
"I didn't know my match would be it, but after splitting the first two sets, it was hot and I needed to win to get this done," Staton said.
Staton moved from No. 5 on the ladder a season ago into the No. 2 spot. Her play has gotten more consistent and patient.
"The No. 2 level players are a lot better," Staton said.
On Thursday, Milo and Reese combined to win the Region 1B doubles title, marking the third year in a row that Riverheads has placed a doubles pair in the state tournament.
As far as the team, Siskin believes the Gladiators should match up well against Rappahannock.
With a team dominated by sophomores and freshmen, the Gladiators' tennis future looks promising.
I don't think they (Rappahannock) lost any players from last season, but we are much stronger," Siskin said. "If we can win three of the singles matches, I think we can win. They're a tough team, but we can beat them."