Broughton got an extra boost of confidence heading into Thursday’s conference tiebreaker against Sanderson.
The Caps placed five players in the final and semifinal matches of the Cap Eight individual tournament Wednesday at Millbrook Exchange Park. The two Broughton doubles teams and singles player topped their Sanderson opponents with Alison Austin and Hunter Cox taking the conference doubles title over Sofia Anthony and Dylan Cannon, 1-6, 6-4 (10-4).
The teams face off in a dual team match Thursday at Millbrook High School – a neutral court – to decide the conference team champion after both finishing 13-1 in league play and splitting head-to-head matchups.
“We kind of expected it (to be between Broughton and Sanderson), but I knew we were going to pull it out,” Cox said. “I have a lot more conference going into (tomorrow).”
Sanderson won the first regular season meeting against the perennial power Caps, 5-4, taking several tiebreakers to capture the victory. Broughton won last month’s meeting, 7-2. Neither team lost another Cap Eight match this season.
“It’s been a great season,” Austin said. “We have a really strong team, and people thought that we weren’t because we lost a couple of seniors, but we’re still number one in the conference, in my opinion anyway; we’ll find out tomorrow.”
On Wednesday, the Caps gutted out the tiebreakers successfully, leaving first-year coach Andy Fowler looking to ride the momentum into Thursday’s match.
“I’m just so proud of them because they all were down, and they all just dug a little deeper and pulled it out,” Fowler said. “Sanderson is a great team, so every time that we’ve played it’s just been down to the wire for each one. Hopefully we can keep this going tomorrow.”
Blaine Blackburn and Belle Paylor topped Sanderson’s Kate Griffin and Grace Smith, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).
The Caps’ No. 1 player, Kara Summerford, defeated Sanderson’s Pim Jattavapornvanit, 2-6, 6-3 (10-5) .
Wakefield’s Susanne Boyden, the defending NCHSAA 4A singles champion, defended her Cap Eight title by defeating Millbrook’s Savannah Taranto, 6-1, 6-1.
Boyden completed the conference season without losing a set. Now, she prepares for the state tournament, which begins next week.
“I’m nervous about regionals, but I’m defiantly looking forward to it,” Boyden said. “(There’s a little bit of added pressure as defending champion), but I don’t really let that get to me. ... I just need to stay focused in every match and make sure that I play well and take it one point at a time because I’m going to be playing really good players.”
The Mid-East regional individual tournament begins Oct. 17 at Middle Creek Tennis Courts. The first round of the NCHSAA dual team tournament is Tuesday. The top dual team seed from the Cap Eight will be decided by Thursday’s match between Sanderson and Broughton.
Sanderson coach Joe Mesiano said that while he is proud of the team, the results showed him what the Spartans need to do to rebound for the next day.
“We have to win five out of six singles tomorrow,” he said. We have to do that. We practice doubles all the time, but (Broughton’s) extremely strong in doubles, and what I just saw today, I didn’t like at all.”
The Cap Eight tiebreaker dual match is set for 3:30 p.m.