The morning runs were worth it after all. In mid-August, the last thing a rising high school senior wants to do is have to roll out of bed at 5:30 on a weekday morning to run. Erin Bowsher found a way to push herself. The tennis star admittedly didn’t always like it. She might feign a smile, but otherwise, she grit her teeth and did it.
The road work, the extra hitting, it’s paying off now, it seems, as the West Chester Henderson girls’ tennis team advanced to the PIAA Class AAA state championship for a third-straight year, after smoking District 3 third-place finisher Lower Dauphin Tuesday afternoon, 5-0, at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Manayunk.
The difference between this year and past years is that the Warriors are looking to get past the semifinal round, where their season ended the previous two seasons.
Henderson is undefeated, at 18-0, and won its second-straight PIAA District 1 Class AAA championship, led by Bowsher, along with seniors Corinne Fleet, Rebecca Rodgers, Lumin Shen, Emila Aaldenberg, with junior Morgan Dougherty and sophomore Tory Gasho.
“We’re hoping to come away with a state championship; we’ve bonded a lot, this is a great group of girls and we’ve definitely grown up as a team together since our sophomore year,” Bowsher said. “The seniors were put into a new situation early on. Our sophomore year we came into the season thinking we’d have to rebuild the team.
“Once we qualified for states, we’ve been trying to set new goals and establish new things each year. This year it’s looking to go and win the state championship. We don’t try to think about our record, or the pressure of expectations. We focus on playing our best. If we do that, we know we can play our best. Today, we focused on beating Lower Dauphin.”
And made it look easy. Bowsher won in straight sets of 6-0 and 6-2. The Warriors are also battled tested. Bowsher, who is a nationally rated player, has led the Warriors to victories over very good Wissahickon and Conestoga teams. There is a chance, the way the state bracket is spread, that Henderson could meet one of their District 1 rivals again.
“It will be a great thing for District 1 if one of those teams could reach the state finals,” Bowsher said. “Our focus is on what we need to do to get there. This has been worth it. High school tennis brings a whole new aspect to the sport. Tennis is an individual sport, and with a team, you get to share success and play with girls who are there to support you. Back in August, there were mornings that I didn’t want to wake up at 5:30 in the morning, but I still did. Everyone did. That’s why this is all just a bonus for us. Our mindset is we don’t want to get to the state semifinals again. But if we don’t win the state championship, the season wouldn’t be a failure.”