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Cardinal duo finishes 2A State Runner-up

HOLLY SPRINGS — East Surry seniors Tara Martin and Evelyn Ruedisueli capped off their high school tennis careers by finishing State Runner-up in the NCHSAA 2A Doubles State Tournament.

“These girls have shown great leadership to their teammates and have established the standard for both East Surry Women’s Tennis and East Surry Women’s Athletics,” said Cardinal coach Alison Hooker. “As a coach, I could not ask for more dedicated and benevolent players. It has truly been an honor to be a part of their tennis journey.

“They are always welcome at the East Surry Tennis Courts. Once a part of the Cardinal family, always a part of the Cardinal family.”

The Cardinal duo competed in the state tournament for the third consecutive season as a doubles team, earning All-State honors all three times. Martin was also named All-State as a freshman by reaching the 1A Doubles Semifinals with partner Sarah Mann (Class of 2020).

Martin/Ruedisueli were 1A State Runners-up as sophomores and 2A State Semifinalists as juniors. Coming so close to a state title drove the duo to go the doubles rout once again as seniors.

“Competing in the state tournament this year was different from the years past because this year there was no, ‘Let’s try again next year,’ because this is next year and we knew we wouldn’t get any more tries after this,” Ruedisueli said. “The first two times we made it to state I barely knew anybody there, so this year it was cool already knowing a little bit about our competition and the people around us.”

Martin also played the entire season with a torn ACL, and said that playing singles in a tournament format would not have been possible with her injury.

Despite winning the 2A Midwest Regional Championship a week prior, the Cardinals knew they were in for a tough weekend at the state tournament.

“The past two years since moving to 2A and bringing the charter schools with us has brought high-caliber tennis,” Martin said. “The girls we competed against were not recreational players; these teams are very well-trained and it is easy to tell that they put in a lot of hours. Playing against these high-quality players this year encouraged me to play better and smarter.

“Knowing that it was my senior year caused me to develop the mindset going into each match that each match could be my last, so as a result I needed to play my best tennis.”

Martin/Ruedisueli entered states with a 21-0 record. The duo went 14-0 in the regular season, 3-0 in the Foothills 2A Conference Tournament and 4-0 in the 2A Midwest Regional Championship.

They first ran into Manteo’s Natalia Buchta and Cora Walker at the state tournament. Martin/Ruedisueli defeated the Manteo team 6-1, 6-2, then defeated West Lincoln’s Chloe Norman and Bailey Huss 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

A 6-3, 6-1 win over Greene Central’s Kristen Colie and Rylee Greene sent Martin/Ruedisueli to the 2A State Finals.

The East Surry girls ran into the defending state champions in the finals: Hendersonville’s Eliza Perry and Ramsey Ross. Perry appeared in her third doubles title match, having won the 2A Doubles Championship with McCollough Perry in 2020.

Hendersonville also won the 2A Dual Team State Championship in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

“Playing in the state finals my sophomore year eased my nerves a little bit, but overall going into that match I knew that we were in for a tough matchup,” Martin said. “Even though the match was very tough it felt very good to compete at that level again. Although the result wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, having the opportunity to play in the finals is something I am definitely grateful for.”

Ross/Perry went back-to-back with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Martin/Ruedisueli.

In three years as a doubles team the girls amassed an overall record of 59-4, and never lost in either the regular season or conference tournament. These four losses occurred in the: 2020 1A State Championship match, 2022 2A State Championship match, 2021 2A State Semifinals match and 2021 2A Midwest Regional Championship Match.

“I think we work so well together because we can trust each other to make the right shots and do what we have to do in a match,” Ruedisueli said. “I will always know if I embarrassingly swing and miss a ball, Tara will be right behind me and that goes both ways.”

Both girls had a long list of people to thank for helping them in their tennis careers.

Ruedisueli: “I’d like to recognize my biggest supporters: my parents. They’ve spent a countless amount of money on tennis equipment and private lessons to get me to where I am today and have supported every decision I made throughout the way.

“Alison Hooker has been an amazing coach for the past four years and always made tennis a great time.

“Someone I’d especially like to thank is our athletic trainer Mrs. [JoAnn] Sutterby a.k.a. Mama Sutterby. She has been to every match possible and always comes despite her busy schedule.”

Martin: “I want to thank my mom and dad for all of the time and money that they have put into my tennis career.

“My mom has sacrificed countless hours throughout the years at tournaments and lessons, and she has picked up millions of balls while we are out practicing. My dad has been not only my favorite but also the best coach I have ever had. He knows so much about the game and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him.

“Finally, without my sister Abigail I would have never played tennis. After she decided to play in seventh grade I decided that I wanted to as well. Abigail has always been my biggest role model, and being just like her was something that I wanted to achieve. Having the opportunity to practice with Abigail helped me to get better because I was hitting with someone who was much better than me.

“Overall, I could never thank my family enough for everything they each have done to help me get to this point.”

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