Rolesville lost a one-sided girls team tennis match to Green Hope 5-1 Tuesday at the Cary Tennis Center, but what mattered to the Rams was they planted their flag in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
The fourth-year school reached the milestone of the girls tennis team playoffs for the first time. In the regular season, the Rams posted 10-4 record to place third in the Greater Neuse River Conference and finished with an 11-5 overall mark.
“It means a lot,” said senior Nikoro Uzoho, the No. 2 singles player. “This was the best tennis we’ve played in four years. I’m really happy to have been with the team all four years, to see the girls grow and to see how much better of a player I’ve become.”
Rolesville’s lone team point was claimed by the face of the program’s future, Jade Houston. The freshman No. 1 singles also is a top North Carolina junior tennis player. She took Green Hope’s UNC-Asheville-bound Ana Horvat to a tiebreaker, winning 6-4, 4-6 (10-7).
“I play with her outside of high school tennis, and she works hard,” Uzoho said. “She deserves everything she gets. She helped our team a lot. She’s good at giving advice. Anytime I ask her a question she helps me out.”
Houston returns next year along with freshman No. 3 singles Camryn Straughn and junior No. 4 singles Katie Nguyen.
“High school tennis was fun,” Houston said. “Everyone on the team encouraged me. Even when I wasn’t winning a match, they encouraged me to lift me back up.”
In this age of high school sports transfers, talented athletes often seek a way to to compete for a winning program. But Houston was content to play with her home school by residence.
“Even though they weren’t winning here, they still had hope,” Houston said. “Camryn and I are experienced players, and we hoped we could help them out.”
The Falcons were quick to clinch the match with five wins in single to negate the need to play doubles.
Senior Cynthia Xiao led the way at No. 2 singles with a 6-0, 6-0 sweep. The other winners were No. 3 freshman Anna Rico, 6-0, 6-1; No. 4 sophomore Sophia Gray, 6-0, 6-0; No. 5 freshman Reilly Major, 6-0, 6-0; and No. 6 senior Aoi Kajiwara, 6-0, 6-0.
“Our team is really deep 1 through 6, and we’re looking forward to playing well in the playoffs,” Xiao said. “Everyone on the team supports each other.”
The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference champions improved to 17-1 overall after a posting a 16-0 conference mark.
Green Hope wrested the conference title from Panther Creek, which went on to win NCHSAA 4A team tennis titles the past three years. The two will now meet in the second round after Panther Creek defeated Sanderson 5-1.