Published: Oct 27, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 29, 2012 06:16 PM
CARY - For Panther Creeks young, but talented tennis team this could just be the beginning of a very successful run.
The Catamounts, with four freshmen at the top of the order, blasted perennial state power East Chapel Hill 5-1 Tuesday afternoon in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A dual team playoffs.
East coach Ann Booterbaugh knew her team lost to a good opponent.
We came ready, expecting a tough match. We knew we had to play well. They gave 100 percent and thats all they could do. Im proud of them, Booterbaugh said of her players.
Gan, a ninth-grader and the only Wildcat to win her singles against Panther Creek last week, finished her season at 16-0.
East Chapel Hill won the PAC Six Conference (again) this fall without losing to a league opponent, but the Wildcats lost 5-4 to Panther Creek in a non-conference match in late season. By seasons end, Panther Creek (19-1) was ranked No. 3 in the state by prep coaches, and East Chapel Hill (16-3) was No. 5, having lost only to No. 1 Broughton and Panther Creek.
The girls felt good about the season for many reasons, Booterbaugh said. We were 16-3, only losing to two top teams. They also really bonded and had fun with each other away from the court as well. It was a great group of girls and most are returning. All who are returning are strong players and will help the team next year.
East will graduate Brittany Hill, the teams No. 1 player, but will return Nos. 2-7 in singles: sophomore Caroline Pope (2); ninth-grader Rainie Heck (3); juniors Mackenzie Bright (4) and Meghana Holegadde (5); Gan (6); Kiri Schulz (7); plus Corey Risinger and Cate Bahner.
After qualifying for the NCHSAA individual tournament, Heck and Holegadde lost in the regionals. Easts doubles teams of Hill-Pope and Gan-Schulz lost in the second round, just short of advancing to this weekends championships.
Panther Creek this week will host Broughton, which handed the Catamounts their only loss.
Tuesdays win by Panther Creek came with junior Megan Smith, the teams usual No. 1 player, on the sidelines with an injury.
With Megan Smith out, her younger sister freshman Sammi Smith played No. 1 and freshmen Jordan Strickland, Orla Labiche, and Loren Kim filled the top spots. All four won their matches in straight sets.
Megan lost in the other match against East Chapel Hill and I know she was disappointed at not getting to play, but today we played like the team we have, the team we are. It was good to see us come alive, Catamounts coach Nathaniel Blalock said.
This team is getting better every match and we only lose one senior out of out top seven so Im hoping we can only get better.Carrboro hosts Tuesday
Carrboro, the top seed from the Carolina 12 Conference, beat Tarboro 5-4 last week. The Jaguars (15-3) will host Swansboro (18-2) on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Elsewhere, Chapel Hill ended its tennis season at 11-7 after falling at undefeated (17-0) Nash Central, 6-0 in the NCHSAAs first round. W.E. Warnock contributed to this report
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