APEX — The Class of 2016 ruled the 4A Mideast tennis regional on Saturday at Middle Creek High School.
Sophomore Susanne Boyden of Wakefield won the singles title, while sophomores Sammi Smith and Jordan Strickland from Panther Creek earned the doubles championship.
We have a really strong sophomore class, said Boyden, who downed defending 4A state champion Maggie Kane of Broughton in straight sets. We make each other better, which is good. I practice with those girls a lot.
During a break late in her 6-1, 6-0 victory over Kane, Boyden turned to ask how Smith and Strickland finished. Told they won, Boyden then dispatched Kane for the second match in a row, following up her Cap Eight conference title last weekend.
But by no means did Boyden take Kane for granted.
It was a tough match, Boyden said. Shes a great player. Im really good friends with (Smith and Strickland), so I just wanted to see how they were doing.
The Panther Creek duo was doing just fine, though they didnt start out that way against Cary seniors Hannah Jabusch and Jamie Rogers. Jabusch and Rogers won the first set 6-2 and quickly went up 2-0 in the second before Smith and Strickland righted themselves.
There were a lot of nerves this weekend, Smith said. A lot of nerves. They played a really good first set, and that didnt help, either.
Finally, the sophomores relaxed and played their game, storming to the net on several occasions to take control. Jabusch and Rogers only won two games the rest of the way as Smith and Strickland won 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.
We turned it around and started playing better, too, Strickland said. We said, We have to calm down and suppress the nerves. We started playing better then.
Jabusch and Rogers beat the Panther Creek pair in the Southwest Wake 4A conference tournament last weekend, dealing Smith and Strickland their first loss in high school. That match was on all four players minds Saturday.
Playing them again, it was definitely tough, Jabusch said. We knew they were a really tough team to beat, and it was a great match.
Jabusch and Rogers may have another shot at Smith and Strickland, the defending state 4A champs, in the start tournament that starts Oct. 25.
Were still confident, even though we lost, Rogers said. Senior year, high school tennis. Well keep fighting. Weve got much more ahead of us. We might have to face them again, and well just keep coming at them.
Kane could have another shot at Boyden, too, as she tries to duplicate her state title.
Im just going to take one match a time, Kane said. Im dont really think about (individual titles) that much. Im more concerned about the team.
The final four in singles and doubles advance to the state individual tournament. Lauren McCorquodale and Savannah Taranto of Millbrook beat Adrienne Overcash and Alison Austin of Broughton 6-1, 6-4 to claim third place, but both teams advance.
Bailey Edwards of Holly Springs won the third-place singles match against Megan Smith of Panther Creek after a wrist injury forced Smith to retire after one game.