Panther Creek is on an 25-match winning streak entering this season and it doesn’t look like another in-state foe will stop it.
The Catamounts have an embarrassment of riches.
Panther Creek (20-0, 14-0) returns its entire lineup from last year’s state title team, including three-time 4A doubles champs Sammi Smith and Jordan Strickland. Smith is ranked No. 1 in the state, Strickland No. 3 and teammate Orla LaBiche is No. 9.
Should Smith and Strickland win the 4A doubles title this year, they will become just the second pair to win four NCHSAA doubles championships together.
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Amanda Cyr, No. 7 among juniors, junior Aishani Tingare and senior Savannah Gray round out last year’s top six.
Green Hope (16-6, 12-2), which fell in the 4A East final to Panther Creek in back-to-back years, is led by senior Karena Zhang. Zhang is ranked No. 6 in the state among seniors.
The Falcons, like Panther Creek, qualified all six players for regionals last year. Seniors Ellie and Sara Ackerson and sophomore Ana Horvat also return.
Apex (12-5, 10-4), which clawed its way into the playoffs as a wild-card team last season, brings back junior Elizabeth Johnson and seniors Melissa Romano and Sydney Oylan.
Coming off one of its best seasons in recent memory, Athens Drive (10-7, 7-7) has No. 4 singles player Katherine Clapp, No. 5 Kristen Smedley and No. 6 Irena Brain returning.
Jenna Stachowiak returns as the No. 1 singles player for Middle Creek (8-9, 7-7). She was a state qualifier in doubles.
Fuquay-Varina (4-10, 4-10) returns five of its top six including No. 1 Alexa Greene, No. 2 Ellie McAlonen, No. 3 Aysha Diallo and No. 4 Megan Greene.
Holly Springs (2-13, 2-12) lost just two seniors from its lineup. Among those returning are No. 1 Stephanie Charlino, a junior, and senior Caroline Brammer.
Cary (0-17, 0-14) loses SWAC singles champ and state semifinalist Supriya Narisetti.
Apex Friendship did not have a coach as of Wednesday, and had not practiced or held tryouts.
Last 10 SWAC champions
2014: Panther Creek
2013: Panther Creek
2012: Panther Creek
2011: Green Hope
2010: Green Hope
2009: Green Hope
2008: Green Hope
2007: Green Hope
2006: Athens Drive
2005: Athens Drive
State championships among all SWAC teams
Team: Panther Creek (2013)
Individual: Green Hope’s Melissa Kandinata (2010 singles); Panther Creek’s Jordan Strickland and Sammi Smith (2012, 2013, 2014)