High School Sports

Unbeaten Boyden repeats in regional

Wakefield defending state girls tennis singles champion Susanne Boyden breezed to her second consecutive NCHSAA 4A Mideast Regional title Saturday at Middle Creek, but she says this season is different.

Her sophomore youth has been supplanted by veteran savviness. The 5-foot-8 junior is playing with more strategy and game-planning.

“I didn’t go into the tournament thinking I was going to win,” Boyden said. “There are so many good players. There was a lot of pressure going into it. I just took it point by point and match by match. I focused on hitting the ball and not winning or losing.”

Boyden, unbeaten this season, defeated Panther Creek sophomore Amanda Cyr 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals and Millbrook senior Savannah Taranto 6-1, 6-3 in the final. The Western Carolina-bound Taranto was the only opponent to win three games in a set off Boyden in the regional’s four rounds over two days.

Wakefield coach Ken Stewart, who directed Susanne to a girls state title last fall and her older brother Bo Boyden to a boys state crown in the spring, has seen her mature.

“She’s a year strong and a year quicker,” Stewart said. “It’s different being the chased and the chaser. Maybe that’s why she thought this year was tougher, but she handled it well. Besides her physical gifts, I think mentally she’s tougher.”

Cyr claimed third-place over Cary senior Supriya Narisetti, who lost her semifinal to Taranto 6-3, 6-4. Cyr led Narisetti 3-2 when Narisetti, the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference champion, retired with an injury.

The top four finishers in the singles and doubles advanced to the 4A state tournament Friday and Saturday at Millbrook.

The day’s drama played out in the doubles semifinals with a 3-hour, 15-minute battle that Green Hope junior Sara Ackerson and sophomore Ana Horvat survived over Middle Creek freshman Jenna Stachowiak and senior Shaye McAuliffe 6-3, 7-5, 5-7.

In the final, Panther Creek junior Sammi Smith and junior Jordan Strickland won 6-1, 6-2 over Ackerson and Horvat to claim their third straight 4A title. Next up is chasing a third consecutive 4A state title.

In the third-place match, Sanderson sophomore Sofia Anthony and freshman Dylan Cannon defeated Stachowiak and McAuliffe 6-4, 6-3.

Both the Panther Creek and Sanderson tandems waited two-plus hours between the semis and finals.

“We’ve been through it before in USTA matches,” said Smith of the junior circuit and the challenge to remain fresh. “A lot of time matches get backed up and then be ready to play.”