Boys’ Player of the Year: Connor Thomas, Matoaca
As a high school tennis coach, it’s always nice to have a player at the top of your lineup who can be relied upon for a win match after match. For Matoaca coach Matt Ramirez, Connor Thomas was just that.
Thomas came into his senior season this spring as reigning Conference 12 Player of the Year. For anyone, that kind of season is hard to follow up or improve upon, but Thomas found a way.
Thomas dominated from the first point of the regular season until the last. His grit and unmatched effort pushed him to an undefeated regular season record, a fact not so easy to accomplish.
Coach Ramirez loves what Thomas brings to the table as a tennis player, and he is thankful to have had such a player for four years.
“He plays through every point like it’s his last,” said Ramirez. “It’s great to have a player like him at the top of the lineup that you don’t have to worry about; it lets you focus on the rest of the team.”
After his stellar undefeated season, Thomas was not done. He finished second in the Conference 12 singles tournament, falling just short of a perfect record up to that point. Thomas did, however, win the Conference 12 doubles tourney, and he advanced to regionals in both singles and doubles.
Off the court, Thomas is a terrific student in the classroom. He graduated last week ranked 30th in his class with 4.2 GPA.
Girls’ Player of the Year: Irina Croston, Matoaca
Croston capped off her career at Matoaca by leading her team to their second consecutive Conference 12 championship. In storybook fashion, she won the deciding match to win the title.
With a regular season record of 12-3, Croston was awarded All-Conference 12 honors. Her dedication to the team not only drove her to improve, but she encouraged and inspired her teammates to be better as well.
Coach Darius Uzzell says Croston’s serve and her ability to work through points are the best parts of her game physically. But mentally, her work ethic, razor sharp focus, and tenacity set her apart.
Croston is as outgoing as they come. To get the ball rolling early, she organized several practices with her teammates before the season started. Coach Uzzell says she holds each and every one of her teammates accountable. Dedication like this could be the difference maker in winning a conference championship.
Playing in the number 1 slot in the lineup for two years, Croston took the position head-on and proved to be a great leader for the Matoaca girls tennis team. She has helped create a hard-working culture that is sure to continue for the Warriors.