Panther Creek’s girls tennis team is winning championships faster than school officials can hang blue-and-white placards trumpeting titles on the campus court fences.
The host Catamounts beat East Chapel Hill 7-0 Tuesday in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A team tennis tournament.
With the win, Panther Creek took another step toward defending its state title. The Catamounts also recently claimed their third straight conference team title while sweeping their way to the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference championship.
“The environment around here is very encouraging,” said Aishani Tingare, a second-year varsity player among the top six singles. “Whenever we’re down, we support each other and boost each other up. The girls are super nice, we train together and there is good chemistry.”
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Tingare, a sophomore at No. 5 singles, and Sammie Smith, a junior at No. 1 singles, both swept their matches 6-0, 6-0.
Other singles wins were recorded by junior Jordan Strickland at No. 2, 6-1, 6-0; junior Orla Labiche at No. 3, 1-6, 6-0, 10-5; sophomore Amanda Cyr at No. 4, 6-1, 6-0; and junior Savannah Gray at No. 6, 6-2, 6-0.
Panther Creek’s seventh point came from the No. 1 doubles team of Smith-Strickland with an 8-2 victory. The tandem also is adding to placards that need to be hung with their success in individual tournaments. They are the two-time state doubles champions. Last weekend they won their third straight 4A Mideast Regional title and now chase their third straight state title this weekend at Millbrook.
“They’re always encouraging us – (players) 1 through 12,” Tingare said of Smith and Strickland. “They’re always here for matches and exhibitions.”
Although East Chapel Hill was swept and No. 3 singles Iskra Joksimovic was the only player to win a set, veteran coach Lindsey Linker was happy with her team’s effort. But she added the second round was too early for her team to face a top seed such as Panther Creek.
“The state needs to start seeding tennis like other sports,” she said. “We got Broughton in the second round last year and now Panther Creek. We’re ranked No. 3 by the coaches, and we shouldn’t play a top seed until the third round or later. But I’m proud of the way my girls played hard.”