The Green Hope girls tennis team earned their second win in as many days, defeating Wakefield 8-1 on Wednesday to improve to 2-0 in the young fall campaign.
In an evening filled with mostly lopsided sets, Green Hope’s Karena Zhang and Wakefield’s Susanne Boyden sported an intense rivalry. Their doubles match lasted 72 minutes and they were the final two to leave the courts after their No. 1 singles match.
The two aren’t strangers.
“Every year I’ve had to play Susanne in the regionals,” Zhang said. “The (doubles) was pretty dragged out, I was dreading getting to singles.”
After falling only one game short of a state championship game appearance, Green Hope coach Pam Gilbert believes the Falcons come back in 2015 with a squad even stronger than the one it fielded last year.
“We have more depth, we’re playing eight in our rotation because they’re all so even,” Gilbert said. “Zhang is an individual player I expect to step up and be a leader this year, and she’s a talented player I know is capable of that.”
Despite the loss, the game experience was valuable to Wakefield of the Cap-8, who compete in arguably the most talented conference in North Carolina.
“We need to work on consistency moving forward, a lot of our shots are going out,” Wakefield coach Stacy Morgan said. “These (out of conference) games are very important regarding experience, they helps us get better…in time for our conference games.”
They said it
“We’ve wanted to play the Cap-8 because we played them in the regionals and last year we didn’t have any experience against them, couldn’t plan, and we really didn’t get seeded well because (the playoff board) didn’t know us,” Green Hope coach Pam Gilbert said. “This year we made a point to make sure we played up here so when we go there, we can have our say.”
Three who mattered
Ackerson twins, Green Hope: Sarah Ackerson (No. 2 singles) and her twin sister Ellie Ackerson (No. 4), dominated individually and as team. Sarah won her singles match (6-0, 6-2) and Ellie earned a convincing victory later in the evening. Paired up in the No. 2 doubles, they trounced Wakefield 8-2.
Boyden, Wakefield: Boyden was the lone bright spot for Wakefield. She earned Wakefield their sole point of the night, redeeming her doubles loss with a No. 1 singles win over Zhang.
“Susanne did such a great job, she always does,” Morgan said. “She’s a well-rounded player that I’m very impressed with and love to watch play.”
Zhang, Green Hope: Zhang, having played four matches in the previous two days, showed off her endurance, winning her No. 1 doubles match and taking Boyden to the wire in the singles game.
By the numbers
72: The length, in minutes, that the No. 1 doubles match between Green Hope’s duo of Karena Zhang and Ana Horvat went to get the 9-8 comeback win against Wakefield’s Susanne Boyden and Caroline Stallings.
12, 86: The length of the delay (12 minutes) and temperature (86) when both teams were sent inside for a code red heat advisory.
“I thought maybe it was a drill or a test so see how quickly I could get the girls inside,” Morgan said.
Green Hope has a big match with crosstown rival Panther Creek looming on Sept. 2nd. Not only is this a chance at revenge for the Falcons, who fell to the Catamounts in the East final each of the last two years, but also a chance to see how serious they are at being a state title contender this season.