Raleigh Charter had only experienced runner-up finishes every in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A girls tennis championship the Phoenix had participated in. Until Saturday.
Raleigh Charter defeated Mount Airy 5-2 for the school’s first title as Camryn McClure and Christina Lee won 10-6 at No. 1 doubles to clinch victory.
“I don’t know how we did it, but we did it,” Lee said.
Mount Airy (26-2) was leading on the other two doubles courts and was close to wrapping those up, leading 9-8 and 8-7.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Raleigh Charter coach Jenn Furr said. “We have strong singles, so I knew in my heart we would win three or four singles, but I knew their doubles teams were exceptional. So we really focused on doubles this week.”
McClure, the state title MVP, won her No. 1 singles match against Bailey Jackson 6-0, 6-0 for Raleigh Charter (14-0). Perhaps most important was No. 3 Blair King’s 5-7, 6-2 (10-2) victory over Logan King.
The other singles matches were won by Mount Airy’s No. 2 Elizabeth Marion 6-3, 6-1 over Lee, Mount Airy’s No. 4 Maya Hicks 6-4, 6-3, Raleigh Charter’s Vedika Birla 6-3, 6-3 over Lisa Omura and Raleigh Charter’s No. 6 Vennela Avula 6-3, 6-2 over Elizabeth Bray.
Avula and Lee are the only two seniors.
“Our singles were so much stronger (than last year),” Lee said. “In the regular season we were all undefeated, all singles. We were more consistent players. I think mentally we were stronger this year.”
Raleigh Charter finished runner-up in two other state championships, last year and in 2013, when the Phoenix lost to Mount Airy.
“I think this is the strongest tennis team that we’ve ever had as far as ability, but by far this is the biggest gelled, close(-knit) team that we’ve ever had,” Furr said. “It just seemed to all fall in place with each other.”