Cary News: Sports

Broughton girls tennis blanks Apex in NCHSAA playoffs

The Broughton Capitals took care of business in the second round of the 4A state dual team tennis playoffs Tuesday afternoon, dispatching Apex 5-0 on the Caps’ home court.

Next up for Broughton (17-1) is another playoff date with Panther Creek.

The Caps won all five singles matches that were completed and were leading 7-5, 5-2 at No. 4 singles when the clinching match ended.

“Coming in, we really didn’t know much about this team,” Broughton coach Andy Fowler said. “I’m always nervous when I don’t know too much about them, but I felt like (we) did play our games and didn’t slack off.”

The Nos. 1, 3 and 5 matches were over quickly, as Kara Summerford won at No. 1, 6-2, 6-1, over the Cougars’ Melissa Romano, while Alison Austin dispatched Carla Thomas 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 and Wynn Burrus beat Sydney Oyler 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5.

Broughton’s Hunter Cox then beat Elizabeth Johnson at No. 2 6-4, 6-1, before Shields Bennett clinched the match with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Audrey Sung at No. 6.

Blaine Blackburn led Apex’s Natalie Melech 7-5, 5-2 at No. 4, but that was called – and doubles not played – because the Caps had clinched.

The win sends Broughton to the third round against defending state champion Panther Creek. The Catamounts beat Broughton last year en route to the state title, while the Caps eliminated Panther Creek on their way to the state championship in 2012.

“That should be an intense match because last year we lost to them in the quarters,” Summerford said. “I look forward to it. It’ll be great competition and will be interesting to see how it turns out because I think our team is strong.”

Fowler will see her first Broughton-PC match, as she took over the powerhouse Broughton program this year.

“I feel like my girls are pumped,” Fowler said. “We’ve talked about how cool that would be if we could upset them. A couple of them said, ‘Yeah, let’s just plan to do that.’ Our plans may be different than what Panther Creek has planned.

“Whatever happens, we’ve had a great season, a lot better than a lot of people gave us credit for at the beginning of the season.”

The Cougars (12-5) had a good season, too, finishing third in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference to earn a wild-card bid to the state tournament. Apex made the playoffs for the first time since 2010, and then beat Clayton in the first round.

“We had a pretty good season,” senior Carla Thomas said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been to dual team, so it was really good. I’m glad we got to do it my senior year.”

Thomas said she believed her season ended in the conference tournament, but her high school career was given new life with the playoff berth. Now, though, she’s sad it’s truly over.

“I’ve been going up and down because I thought I had my last match two weeks ago in conference,” Thomas said. “But then we made it to dual team (playoffs), so it’s kind of strange. I already said my goodbye to tennis, but now it’s like I’m reliving it all.”

Cougars coach Lynn Thomas said her team positioned itself solidly behind Panther Creek and Green Hope in the SWAC in 2014, despite having to practice and play off-campus.

Apex loses seniors Thomas and Sung but has a solid core returning next season.

“We were thrilled to get the wild-card to get the chance to play dual-team,” Lynn Thomas said. “Apex hasn’t gotten into dual-team since 2010, so it was pretty exciting to give us an opportunity.

“Broughton has a strong reputation, and it was a good battle. I hope my girls know that possibly next year they could be a little bit more competitive.”