Published DateGILFORD — Cheralynn Corsack and Charleyne Panner first met when they were both seventh graders taking tennis lessons. Their tennis careers have been entwined ever since. When they reached Gilford High School, Corsack was named the tennis team's top seed and Panner the second. Now seniors, they've held the top two spots all four years, and in each of those years have also combined for Gilford's top doubles team.
With the regular season drawing to a close, the Corsack/Panner pair will soon unravel as they head to different universities. There's still a few matches on their calendar, though, and the two girls aren't ready to pack up their rackets yet. They want to win a few more matches, and have a little bit more fun together.
"We have fun no matter what," said Panner, moments after stepping off the courts in Meredith, where they defeated the top Inter-Lakes doubles team by the score of 8-2. During the game, the pair's longevity was apparent – they seemed to know what the other was going to do before she did it, and in the case of a rare mis-hit, the two shared a goofy face and a chuckle. "I've never played doubles with anyone else, except my mom," said Panner.
The fun-loving approach has proven effective Panner and Corsack. As freshmen, playing against the opposing team's best doubles pair, the Gilford girls had a record of nine wins, four losses. As sophomores they improved to 7-2, and last year surrendered only one loss. They're undefeated so far this year.
According to Corsack, the light-hearted tone is a mark of the team's culture, something encouraged by coach Hermann Defregger. "We have a lot of fun. Everyone usually dreads practice, but we love our practices. We do work, but Hermann always says funny stuff."
As with the top doubles team, the rest of the squad has found success while enjoying the game. Two years ago, Gilford made it to the semi-finals, where they lost at Bow. Last year, the team earned home court advantage in the semi-final round, but again lost to Bow. Corsack and Panner would like to know what it's like to play in a championship match. As Panner said, "Every year, we get one step further. We want to make it one step further again."
Defregger said it's no coincidence that his team has improved every year that Corsack and Panner have filled the top two seeds. "It's a dream team," he said. Corsack, a year-round tennis player, requires little of his attention, allowing him to focus on developing the younger talent. "She's very confident of what she wants to do." Likewise with Panner, who puts volleyball at the top of her athletic interests but impresses her coach with her sheer desire to win. "She steps out there and does such a phenomenal job, it's incredible," he said.
On the court, Defregger said Corsack and Panner set a standard of play for the rest of their team mates to reach for. And when they're not leading by example, Defregger said, his top two act like assistant coaches, encouraging and cheering from the court side.
Prior to suffering a 5-4 loss at Littleton earlier this week, the Golden Eagles had been undefeated this season. Should they continue to be successful, they could earn home court advantage for the playoffs. The opportunity for post-season success is not lost on Corsack and Panner. However, Corsack said, they also want to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy their last games together. "We want both. We have a good time, I wouldn't want to play with anyone else."
This fall, Panner will attend Bridgewater State University, in Bridgewater, Mass., where she will study business and play volleyball. Corsack plans to attend the University of South Florida as a civil and environmental engineering major.