Garner Cleveland: Sports

Clayton freshman, West Johnston duo win GNRC titles

Clayton freshman Carmelle Joyner and West Johnston’s Katherine Serrell and Ashley Turner captured the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference girls’ tennis individual titles at Clayton Community Park on Friday.

Serrell and Turner downed Clayton’s Elezcia Singletary and Logan Boykin in the doubles championship, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. It was the first loss to a conference opponent for Boykin and Singletary in 40 matches.

“They really played well in the third set,” Clayton coach Ken Stivason said of Serrell and Turner. “They beat us at the net with their volley game.”

The tournament also set the league’s qualifiers for individual regionals in Apex this coming weekend. The top five finishers in singles and doubles moved into the regional event.

Joyner topped Garner senior Hannah Hamlin, 6-1, 6-0, to win the singles championship.

“I felt like I played pretty well,” Joyner said. “My ground strokes were consistent and I was serving well. Coming into the season, (winning the conference singles championship) was a goal, so it feels good.”

It was the freshman’s third victory over Hamlin this season and her 21st in as many singles outings, but it was much harder: Hamlin matched Joyner stroke for stroke on numerous long rallies.

“She did a better job of staying consistent,” Joyner said of Hamlin. “She did a good job, made it a lot harder to win this time.”

Hamlin’s run to the tournament championship match helped her become the first Garner tennis player to win more than 100 matches. Entering this week’s dual playoffs and regional individual tournament, Hamlin has 101 career wins in combined singles and doubles play.

Garner is sending its top six players to regionals, one of Joe Capps’ goals in his final season leading the squad. Saran Hamlin, Hannah’s sister, will enter the regional tournament as the league’s No. 3 seed. Doubles teams Elizabeth Pittman and Alyssa Clark and Nicole Root and Mandisa Ebri also qualified.

Capps, after 15 years leading the Trojans, is retiring from coaching to spend more time with his growing family, which will gain its fifth child in April.

Alyssa Clark joined the Garner record books as well this season, setting individual records for singles wins in a season (18) and combined doubles and singles wins (30).

Sarah Hamlin defeated Knightdale’s Rosalyn Hatlin 6-0, 6-0, in a seeding match. East Wake’s Alexis Montague claimed the fifth regional singles spot with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Harnett Central’s Michelle Wetherington on Friday.

Harnett Central’s Kalin Leuthold and Lindsay Smith also qualified in doubles play.