West High Student Wins State Title


In Photo: Riya Soneji

Barrett Carpenter, Sports Editor

On October 2, 2021, Junior Riya Soneji capped off her unbelievable tennis season with a win and a state title. Soneji, who went undefeated at State with a record of 17-0, is the 2021 Womens’ Tennis 2nd Singles State Champion, and West High Girls Tennis’ first-ever individual State Champion. Throughout the five match playoffs, Soneji won 82.5% of all games and never dropped a set, leading to her 6-1, 6-2 victory in the title match. Soneji has been a member of West’s tennis team since her freshman year, and this is her ninth year of playing tennis. She referenced the state title as a way to show that her training has paid off, and hopes that her success has “represented West High well and made the Girls Tennis team proud.”

Soneji was West’s “number two Single,” meaning that she was the second best Singles player on the team. Soneji played against other number two Singles from other schools during matches and was placed in her Regional and State Playoff brackets accordingly. One spot above Riya, in the first Singles spot for West, was junior Alexandra Burnett. Burnett swept her first match of the playoffs before losing to the eventual runner-up in the second round.

Just because the team didn’t collectively have a shot at the State team title doesn’t mean there was a shortage of turnout. Teammates, coaches, and even Athletic Director Rachel Townsend showed up to watch West play. Soneji credits the support as a confidence booster, saying, “I definitely played much better […] I was really happy to see that I had support. They were a huge part of me winning State.”

Throughout each set of the match, Soneji noticeably built momentum, going on several runs of 5 and 4 games each to close out the sets. Soneji credits this momentum to her confidence in her ability to play and win. This confidence helped her keep her composure and continue playing solid as the second set drew to an end and the state title drew nearer.

For Soneji, next year will hopefully look much the same as this one. She hopes to “keep improving [her] tennis game, and possibly go for the state title again.” The next step for West Girls’ Tennis is to go for team titles as well as more individual state championships. West Girls’ Tennis is about building each other up and being at matches to support their teammates. The success from the team this year will hopefully carry forward to next year, when Soneji and other athletes return to the court for West High.