Sarah Crawford looked forward to joining the Clearview girls tennis team before she had even reached the school halls as a student.
Having started to play the sport at a young age and getting more serious with it in the years leading up to her finally walking through the halls of Clearview Regional High School, the freshman heard many times how good the team is and looked forward to being part of a winner.
Understandably though, a fair amount of nervousness crept into the back of Crawford’s head when the time came to join the team.
“I was really excited to play for Clearview, because it had been a goal of mine for a few years now to make the team,” she said. “I was kind of nervous at first to join though, because I’d heard so many great things about the girls here. And now I’m just super excited about what we can accomplish by the end of the year.”
Couple Crawford with Gloucester County senior standout Carlee Cristella, and the two make a strong one-two punch as the top two singles players for the Pioneers in 2021. They were the reason Clearview walked away with its second consecutive Gloucester County Girls Tennis Championship, its fifth such title in eight years.
Coach Colleen Senor said the team entered the year with two goals in mind, one of them being able to once again leave with the county championship.
“We set two specific team and individual goals ahead of the season, and we were clear about our expectations with our players,” Senor said. “Our first goal was to defend our team title as Gloucester County Open Champions, which we accomplished.”
Cristella placed second in this year’s Gloucester County Open Championship, falling short of the three-peat that was possible going into the tournament. Crawford placed third during her first year in the contest, and helped lead the Pioneers to yet another county open championship.
After only about a month working with Crawford, Cristella says she likes what she’s seen from the freshman and anticipates a bright future for her moving forward.
“I love what I’ve seen from her in only our first month together; I feel like she’s so mature for her age and she’s so good on the court for being so young,” Cristella said. “Probably most important, she’s already gained so much confidence on the court since the beginning of the year.”
Despite making second singles as a freshman and joining what’s already been a strong team in seasons past, Crawford said she didn’t come into her first season with any expectations about how she could do or how the season might go.
Instead, she’s smartly taking it match by match as she relies on the leadership of some of the older girls on the team.
“I didn’t have any expectations going in, because I didn’t know how many of the other schools played and how good they were, so I just took it simply one match at a time,” Crawford said.
“Carlee and junior Emily [Miscioscia] are great players and have been so welcoming early on this season,” she added. “Playing and learning from them have given me so much confidence starting out.”