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Dunlows look forward to senior year

WINDSOR – They’ve tasted a pair of 3-A division tennis titles.

Bertie High School seniors Chelsea Dunlow and Kaitlyn Dunlow (no relation) are looking for the same kind of success again as they prepare for the 2008 campaign.

“I’m looking forward to going out with a bang,” Chelsea said. “We have got to the point where, when we’re playing, we know what each other thinks. We know where the other one will be.”

Kaitlyn said, “We’re going to enjoy our senior year. We’re looking forward to it.”

Last season the two Dunlows combined to form the number three doubles team for the Lady Falcons. They qualified for the regional tournament thanks to a win in the 3-A Division of the Conference.

Once there, the team fell to a number one seed, but they said they learned a lot from the experience.

“They were good,” Chelsea said of the top-seeded opponents. “They definitely tested our abilities.”

Kaitlyn added, “They knew how to place the ball where we weren’t.”

The season was successful for both the Dunlow team and the Lady Falcons. For the second season in a row, Bertie won the 3-A division of the Northeastern Coastal Conference.

Both Kaitlyn and Chelsea said they were excited about what the 2008 season would bring.

“I’m excited to see how the new girls will do,” Chelsea said. “The seniors already know what is expected of us and we know it’s our time to shine and be the leaders we can be.”

Though they have learned the game of tennis and had success with it, neither Chelsea nor Kaitlyn had ever competed in this sport before coming to Bertie.

Both said they gave tennis a try because of Head Coach Jackie Copeland, who directs both the tennis team and the softball team.

“I knew I was going to play softball, so I thought tennis would be a good way for me to learn about Coach and know what she expected,” Chelsea said. “She literally had to teach me how to play the game.”

Kaitlyn said other players suggested that she play tennis.

“Holly Cowand and others said it was a good way to get to know her (Copeland),” Kaitlyn said.

Both said they had a better understand of the game over their years at Bertie.

“I know how to play the game and I know what is expected of me,” Kaitlyn said.

“I’m not scared at all when I go out there now,” Chelsea stressed.

While both still consider themselves softball players (both were named to the All-Northeastern Coastal Conference Second Team in that sport), they think tennis serves a valuable purpose in their athletic careers.

“Getting in shape is important,” Chelsea said. “When you play tennis, it gives you the chance to go ahead and start working and getting in shape.

“I also think since a lot of girls play both tennis and softball, it gives us a head start on chemistry for softball season,” she added.

Kaitlyn said she thought the chemistry issue was important for any team member.

“I think tennis has us in the mindset of working together and forming chemistry that certainly helps when we get on the softball field later in the year,” she said.

While they both enjoy the game of tennis, the girls have differing views of whether they would rather play singles or doubles.

“I like singles better because if you make a mistake, it costs you,” Kaitlyn said. “If you make a mistake in doubles, you have hurt your partner too.”

Chelsea said having a partner made doubles a better game for her.

“When I played singles, it was tough because there was nobody to rely on,” she said. “You have to be ready for everything where in doubles you have a teammate to rely on.

“Plus, I like to talk a lot,” she laughed.

Both identified serving as their favorite part of the game.

“Serving sets the tone for the whole game,” Chelsea said.

Kaitlyn added, “There’s nothing like the feeling of being able to serve an ace.”

Copeland said having seniors like Chelsea and Kaitlyn would give her an experienced team for 2008.

“When I say relaxed, I don’t mean we won’t work hard, but that we can have confidence in our experience,” the coach said. “Their work ethic is good and that will help me with those incoming freshmen who have never played before.

“Kaitlyn, Chelsea and the rest of my seniors know what I expect from them and that has me looking forward to this season,” Copeland closed.