Raulston, Lady Saints earn state honors

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy tennis stars Elvie Sellers and Ria Khandpur were named to the all-state first team for their performances that helped the Lady Saints reach the state title match this year.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy tennis stars Elvie Sellers and Ria Khandpur were named to the all-state first team for their performances that helped the Lady Saints reach the state title match this year.

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls’ tennis team drew four state-level honors after a season in which the program caught fire and made it to the state title match, finishing as runner-up to five-time champion Hampton Roads Academy.

Leading the charge for NSA was Lindsay Raulston, a recent college standout as a player, who was coaching for the first time ever. Her efforts this year led to her being named the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II girls’ tennis Coach of the Year.

“I was not expecting it at all, but it means a lot that the other coaches in the state valued how much effort I put into the position,” she stated in an email interview.

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NSA players receiving recognition included sophomore Elvie Sellers and junior Ria Khandpur, who both made the all-state first team. Senior Holly Kozak made the second team.

Raulston graduated in May from the University of Mary Washington, where she was a five-time All-American and ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation as a singles player on the NCAA Division III level. She also received the same ranking as a doubles player with teammate Shelby Harris.

Raulston was approached about coaching the girls’ team at Nansemond-Suffolk, and “I thought it sounded like a perfect transition for me,” she stated.

A lot of things surprised her about the experience.

“I was surprised by the skill of the girls,” she stated. “I was surprised by their competitiveness. And I think the biggest surprise of all was how much I bonded with them. I really believe that I formed lasting relationships with each and every one of the girls.”

Raulston explained what she felt like she did to help the team be so successful.

“I would like to think I taught the girls a lot about strategy, when to hit what shots in order to be the most successful,” she stated. “I also encouraged them to play up their strengths. For example, if they had a strong net game I wanted them to look for every opportunity to come forward and hit volleys.”

Her players were pleased to see her receive the state honor.

“I was so proud of her,” Ria Khandpur said. “She’s my favorite. I love her so much.”

“Lindsay really deserved it,” Elvie Sellers said. “Since Lindsay’s pretty young, the seniors can relate to her pretty well, we can all really relate to her.”

Though she had great success, Raulston’s tenure is actually coming to an end for now. Ever since graduating, she has been applying for medical school for the fall of 2015.

“Therefore I am going to have to put my coaching career on hold in order to pursue my dream of becoming a physician,” she stated.

With regard to her honored players, she first highlighted why Sellers was worthy.

“Elvie earned her spot as a first team all-state selection by defeating every (No. 1) singles player in the Division II state at least once, and having her only loss be to HRA who finished (No. 1) in our state division,” Raulston stated.

Sellers, who also made the All-Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools first team for singles players, said when she learned of her state selection, “It was the same feeling as TCIS. It was pretty fun. I really enjoyed it.”

Raulston stated Khandpur was worthy of first team all-state because she “also proved herself in the Division II state by defeating the majority of her opponents in our division as well as really improving as the season progressed.”

Khandpur, who also made the all-conference second team for doubles players, said she was pleasantly surprised by the state honor.

“Even the second team for TCIS really surprised me because I do work really hard but I didn’t think I was actually, like, that good,” she said. “So, I was really happy about it. I told all of my friends.”

Raulston stated she was thrilled Holly Kozak made the all-state second team.

“She had a tough job at (No. 3) singles this year and really came out with a great record,” the coach stated. “I think Holly’s multiple wins over HRA’s (No. 3) singles player made her an obvious choice to be an all-state selection.”