Practice makes NR’s Bonney No.1
Published 7:52 pm Saturday, May 30, 2015
In a way, Nansemond River High School tennis player Erin Bonney is like an entry-level employee that got promoted to president in her second year with the company.
She made the Lady Warriors varsity team as a freshman in 2014, serving as the No. 6 player. Midway through that season, she jumped up to the No. 4 position.
This year, she is the team’s No. 1 player, and her victories in the Ironclad Conference singles and doubles tournament championships on May 22 led to her being the Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week.
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Looking back on that day’s championship matches, Bonney said, “Honestly, I was really nervous for the singles one because I was playing my own teammate.”
That teammate was Nansemond River’s No. 2 player, freshman Zion McCoy, and Bonney noted that “she knew how I played.”
Nevertheless, Bonney emerged victorious 6-0, 6-0. She and McCoy make up the Lady Warriors’ No. 1 doubles team, and they won the conference doubles tournament title 6-1, 6-4 against NR’s No. 2 doubles team.
While the doubles final was competitive, Bonney said, “Even if we lost, I knew that my school was winning, so I was really proud of it.”
The Lady Warriors team is what helped Bonney become interested in the sport when she was in eighth grade. Absent the team element, tennis was not that appealing to her.
“I took a few lessons when I was little, and honestly, I didn’t really like it,” she said.
But when she was in eighth grade, she had a friend on the NR varsity team — Casey Wood, a 2013 graduate and former No. 1 Lady Warriors tennis player.
This connection drew Bonney’s curiosity about participating in the sport.
Wood said when she found out Bonney was interested, she pushed her to come out and watch the team play.
“We just led by example for her,” Wood said.
Even though Bonney could not play in official matches until her freshman year, Wood got permission from coach Shamus Riley to let Bonney practice with the team.
Bonney said playing with the team created a bond, and she stuck with the sport and played in the offseason.
Once she started improving significantly as a ninth-grader, she was hooked on tennis.
“I don’t really know how I got to the No. 1 (spot),” she said. “I just kind of go out there and do my best and hope for the best.”
Riley admits he would not have predicted her rise to No. 1 when she started competing last season, but her ability became unleashed midway during the 2014 campaign.
On why she’s reached the top so quickly, he said, “I think it’s just time on the court. She plays volleyball in the fall, but she probably goes to the tennis courts numerous times a week throughout the year.”
Describing the strengths of Bonney’s game, Riley said, “She plays like a wall.” It does not matter the pace at which her opponents play, he noted, “She just somehow returns everything.”
Bonney begins play on Monday in the Region 4A South singles and doubles tournament at Huntington Park in Newport News.