ST. CHARLES – A new banner saluting longtime St. Charles East girls tennis coach Sena Drawer debuted before the Saints’ senior day match against Geneva on Tuesday.
By the time play was halted shortly before 7 p.m., the familiar sign on the wall near the tennis courts only rang half-true.
Indeed, “The sun rises in the East,” but by setting in the west, Mother Nature prompted the suspension of this pivotal Upstate Eight Conference River Division dual until Oct. 9.
East (4-0 UEC River) and Geneva (3-0) recently defeated three-time defending conference champion Batavia, putting a premium on this outcome to officially change the guard.
“For the past three years or so, Batavia has been the strong No. 1 team,” said East senior Alexa Huskisson, who teamed with twin sister Carly for a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 2 doubles. “It’s nice having Geneva and St. Charles [East] battle against it, and then hopefully St. Charles comes out on top.”
The Saints lead the dual, 3-2, with matches at No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles in the third set. East’s Pruthvi Patel and Geneva’s Elizabeth Prendergast had just reached that juncture on the third singles court when darkness engulfed play.
East’s tandem of Haydyn Jones and Kelsie Roberton is deadlocked with counterparts Margo Hess and Emma Hazel, 3-3, in the third set.
“Good, tough match. My girls have gotten better and better,” Vikings coach Maureen Weiler said. “Both sides are hard-hitting, good doubles. It’s fun to watch. It’s hard to watch the other side.”
All eyes were on Drawer in a pre-match ceremony highlighting her 27th season in orange and black.
Taken from the Saints’ perspective, that line would read “All eyes were on Sena.”
“It’s always ‘Sena.’ It’s a first-name basis,” Carly Huskisson said. “She’s practically another grandmother, another mother figure to us, so it’s really nice to have her as a coach.”
To be sure, Drawer divided her time as daylight dwindled between talking strategy with Patel, Jones and Roberton and making sure stragglers had enough leftover brownies or snacks to take home.
“I had no idea that she coached for 27 years,” said Geneva’s Kirby Einck, whose victory at No. 1 singles was the first match completed before teammate Grace Krueger soon followed with a win in the No. 2 slot. “Whenever we come here for invites and matches, she’s always a really sweet lady. So good for her.”
“Totally surprised” by the reception – which included flowers and an array of other goodies – Drawer did not treat the festivities as a goodbye.
Regardless of the conference race, sectional host East likes its chances in the looming postseason behind a senior-laden group, so retirement talk can wait.
“I’m really not there yet,” Drawer said. “I’m not thinking about that part. I’ll make up my mind at some point.”
On Tuesday, she was at least definitive about one matter: You can’t volley in the dark.