CARY — Just one day after a rainout caused Apex girls tennis to postpone a match with Cary, the skies were bright and the Cougars shined on the court.
In the second meeting between Apex and Holly Springs, the Cougars once again came out on top with an 8-1 victory Wednesday.
Apex jumped out to a lead in all three doubles matches, with the most closely contested match being between Melissa Romano and Lea Foster of Apex against Kimberly LaVacca and Haley Daber of Holly Springs. Their match started with Apex up, 4-3, but the Cougars pulled away and won 8-4.
The Cougars’ Andi Johnson and Carla Thomas led 6-1 over the Hawks’ Megan Sredl and Kristen Flanagan, but a late push brought the match to a much closer 6-3. But Apex would finish the match with an 8-3 win to sweep the doubles sets.
“I felt like Apex really had momentum shift in their favor thanks to the doubles,” Holly Springs head coach Heather Goins said. “It’s kind of hard to come back from that, but all of our girls fought hard in the singles to make it a much closer match.”
In singles, Grace Wickham used her power to outlast Megan Boland in the longest match of the day, despite going only two sets. Wickham was frustrated early in the match after committing errors that cost her points, but she pulled out a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) win thanks to her power.
In the No. 2 matchup, Apex’s Claire Baker won an easy first set over Flanagan, 6-1, but Flanagan would pull back to a 6-4 win in the second set. In the final set, Baker used several long sets to outmatch Flanagan, winning by the final of 6-1, 4-6, 11-9.
The other three wins for the Cougars in singles came from the No. 4 through 6 starters, as Thomas defeated Morrison 6-0, 6-1, Romano swept LaVacca 6-0, 6-0 and Foster handled Daber 6-3, 6-1.
“Our girls are playing with a ton of confidence right now,” Apex coach Ryan Phelps said. “We’ve won a lot of points at the bottom of our lineup, and I think that comes from our senior leaders who play No. 1 through 3. Our conference is loaded with high level players and our depth has helped us out.”
The lone point for the Hawks came in the No. 1 matchup between Johnson and Sredl. The Hawks’ normal No. 2 stepped into the top role due to a wrist injury Bailey Edwards suffered at the beginning of the year.
In the last meeting between the teams, Johnson defeated Sredl handily, but the senior stepped up on Wednesday and won her match 6-3, 2-6, 10-6.
“Megan really wanted to win that one,” Goins said. “She lost the last time that she played Andi and it says a lot about her to go out there and just compete with her - much less pull out a win. She has really stepped us for us all year after Bailey had to have surgery.”
The win puts Apex at 7-5 both overall and in the Tri-9 Conference, as they will play their only non-onference matchups at the end of the season. The Hawks fall to 4-10 overall and 3-10 in the conference, but Goins says she’s seen a lot of growth with several players stepping into new roles this season.
“Obviously we are disappointed we're not competing to win the conference,” Goins said. “But I am proud of our girls. To imagine what we could do without injuries to our No. 1 and No. 5 girls is crazy. But I feel like we've had a great year and a lot of our girls have grown from this experience.”