Back-to-back was sweet for Panther Creek on Saturday at Piedmont Tennis Center.
The Catamounts won their second straight N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls’ tennis title, dominating previously unbeaten West champion Myers Park 6-0.
Panther Creek (21-0), which opened in 2006, has so far had its only two NCHSAA team titles in girls’ tennis. Myers Park finished 16-1.
The finals had been scheduled for the Burlington Tennis Center, but were moved indoors because of rain.
Never miss a local story.
Because of that, there were only eight courts available, and four were used for the simultaneous 3A title match, in which Cardinal Gibbons ripped Asheville 5-1.
The Catamounts’ top three players returned from last season’s state championship team.
“The girls obviously work hard, and they play a lot of tennis both inside and outside of high school,” said Panther Creek coach Nathaniel Blalock, who will lose none of the Catamounts’ top-six players heading into next season. “They’re really dedicated to being good and that shows on the court.
“Having no seniors in the top six should be good for next year. Maybe we’ll see Myers Park again right back here.”
Myers Park coach Ed Flynn marveled at the Catamounts’ dominance.
“We knew Panther Creek was that good,” said Flynn, whose team will return its top-three singles players for next season. “Our top doubles team had seen them at the individuals last weekend. We knew what we were getting into.
“They’re a very deserving champion. We’ve got to roll our sleeves up and work and try to come back here last year – and probably see them again.”
Panther Creek swept the first four singles matches in a breeze, giving up just 15 games. No. 1 Sammi Smith topped Maddie Weber 6-2, 6-1, while Jordan Strickland beat Katie Soden 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2, Orla Labiche topped Gaby Soden 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3 and Amanda Cyr beat Madeleine Fox 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4.
“I was kind of expecting it to be closer,” said Smith, who was No. 2 behind older sister Megan – now at Charlotte – last season while Strickland was No. 3. “We knew they were good, but this was our third match this week and we were really prepared.
“This is a lot of fun. It helps to know all our hard work has paid off.”
Aishani Tingare beat Zoe Holderness 6-3, 6-0 at No. 5 singles. The Catamounts also won at No. 1 doubles, where Smith and Strickland defeated the Soden sisters – whom they had topped in the semifinals en route to their state individual doubles title – 10-1.
“I had seen them (Sodens) before and knew they were really good players,” Strickland said. “I knew we’d have to play really well to win.
“Really, our toughest matches this year were against Broughton and Green Hope. Winning in Wake County is hard.”