This week’s conference championships in girls golf and girls tennis are in a holding pattern as schools from Wake County on east and south have cancelled school for Monday.
Girls golf: The girls golf regular season ends this week. The Southwest Wake 4A has moved its conference tournament at The Neuse in Clayton to Wednesday and cut it from 18 holes to 9. Apex Friendship leads the league and could win its first conference title in any sport.
The Cap-8 4A was unable to play its final regular season match. Wakefield won the conference for the third straight year. The Two Rivers 3A was scheduled to play Tuesday, but school was canceled again in Johnston and Harnett counties.
Cardinal Gibbons, Chapel Hill and other members of the mash-up “Carolina Central Conference,” which takes teams from leagues that do not have enough members to form a conference, will play a conference tournament Tuesday at the Chapel Hill Country Club.
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The Greater Neuse 4A has already completed its schedule, with Garner winning the title.
Girls tennis: The Southwest Wake 4A plays its girls tennis conference tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Cary Tennis Center, while the Cap-8 4A will do the same at Millbrook Exchange Park on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Greater Neuse 4A will play Thursday at Clayton High School. The Big 8 3A plays Wednesday at Orange.
Leesville wins Cap-8: Leesville Road had never won a girls tennis conference title, and things looked bleak on Thursday before a tremendous rally by sophomore Irene Michalakis and freshman Helen Alvis to give the Pride a 5-4 victory over Sanderson.
Leesville (13-1, 13-1 Cap-8) and Sanderson (14-1, 13-1) are co-champs.
Leesville was heading to a win at No. 2 doubles but was down 6-3 on No. 3 doubles before the comeback effort. The Pride was down 7-4 but won four straight sets to tie it 8-all and force a first-to-seven tiebreaker, which Michalakis and Alvis won 7-3 to take the match 9-8.
“It was a lot of pressure, but we pulled through,” Michalakis said.
Alvis said: “My stomach was in knots.”
The rally was completed thanks to improved play at the net.
“In the beginning they were a little bit hesitant, they were very nervous. They were just sitting back and no one would be the agressor,” coach Monica Shea-Henderson said. “Then they started moving forward and they started hitting their strokes.”
Shea-Henderson’s program has 48 players, about half varsity and the other JV, which can explain Leesville’s turnaround in the sport.
This is Sanderson’s third straight title, the second co-title, in the program’s recent renaissance.
“Most of my players play year-round and workout mostly with their parents who played college tennis,” said coach Joe Mesiano by email. “We primarily work on strategy since all of my players have excellent ground strokes; however they need to work a lot of strategy of the game.”
Green Hope wins SWAC: Green Hope defeated Panther Creek 6-3 on Wednesday to win its first conference title since 2011, breaking a four-year run three-time defending state champion Panther Creek.
It was fitting that the match’s turning point was at No. 2 doubles, where Green Hope’s Anna Rico and Katie Andreini pulled out an 8-4 win. The Falcons (15-1, 15-0 SWAC) have made their run thanks to those freshmen as well as No. 6 singles player Reilly Major.
The Falcons’ stopped Panther Creek’s 52-match winning streak earlier in the year.
“Going into the first (meeting) we were definitely hopeful because we had a better chance than we had the past 3 to 4 years,” senior Ana Horvat said. “It definitely boosted self-esteem winning that (match), going into this one.”
Panther Creek (15-2, 14-2) is also young with freshmen at No. 2 (Bella Steffens), No. 5 (Leann Blanc) and No. 6 (Natalie Coon). No. 3 Melody Zhang is a sophomore, but there’s no reason to think the Catamounts can’t string together a lengthy postseason run and face Green Hope again.
“We still think that we can be competitive, and we can go the distance. We’ve got to put together our best tennis, from top-to-bottom, on the same day,” Panther Creek coach Nathaniel Blalock said.
Cross country: In one of the last tune-ups before conference championships begin, Green Hope swept the NCRunners.com invitational on Saturday at the Ivey Redmon Complex in Kernersville.
The boys had a 56-115 edge on runner-up Leesville thanks to five runners in the top 17.
The girls placed five runners in the top 11 to edge the Patriot Pacers, a home school team from Virginia, 41-56.