Rain stalled Panther Creek’s defending state champions in girls dual team tennis, but weather wasn’t enough to prevent the Catamounts from defeating Green Hope 7-1 in Thursday’s resumption for a return trip to the state finals.
Panther Creek led Southwest Wake Athletic Conference rival Green Hope 3-1 when play was suspended Wednesday for rain on the Catamounts’ courts. With the victory, Panther Creek (20-0) advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state final. The Catamounts will meet Charlotte’s Myers Park at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Burlington Tennis Center.
The 3A, 2A, 1A finals also will be played throughout the day.
Panther Creek still has yet to allow an opponent to score three team points against them this season. By defeating a conference rival for the third time in a season, the Catamounts demonstrated a business-like approach.
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“We know they’re a strong team, and every time we play them we have to play our best,” said junior Jordan Strickland, the Catamounts’ No. 2 singles player who teams at No. 1 doubles with junior Sammi Smith. “We know they’re going to put up a fight against us, and we have to play our game and hope for the best.”
Strickland won her singles match 6-2, 6-0; Smith was pushed past her usual quick sweep to earn a 6-2, 6-3 decision over junior Karena Zhang. Smith and Strickland won at doubles 10-1.
Panther Creek’s other singles winners were sophomore Amanda Cyr at No. 4, 6-1, 6-1; sophomore Aishani Tingare at No. 5, 6-0, 6-2; and junior Savannah Gray at No. 6, 6-2, 6-1. At No. 2 doubles, junior Orla Labiche and Cyr won 10-4.
“There is some pressure,” Strickland said of the title defense, “but we work well together as a team.”
Green Hope’s lone point came from sophomore Ana Horvat at No. 3 with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Labiche. In the regular season, Horvat lost twice to Panther Creek, falling to Strickland at No. 2 and Labiche at No. 3.
“Our coach (Pam Gilbert) told us to play our best and not worry about the score,” Horvat said. “I’m getting better at the mental part of the game instead of getting mad at mistakes.”
Green Hope defeated Greenville’s J.H. Rose, New Hanover and Sanderson to advance to the semifinal match with Panther Creek.