High School Sports

Cleveland, North Johnston tennis standouts win conference titles

Cleveland’s Victoria Dixon became a three-time Two Rivers 3A Conference girls tennis singles champion with her win in last week’s conference tournament at Smithfield-Selma High School and Smithfield Community Park.

Dixon defeated Alex Rodier of Corinth Holders, 6-1, 6-0, in the championship match to improve to 15-1 on the season. Her only loss this season is a three-set decision against Clayton standout and University of Hawaii commit Carmelle Joyner.

“She has always been a confident player, but this year she has gone into each match, knowing what she needed to do, and then winning fairly quickly,” Cleveland coach Emily Purvis said of Dixon. “Her kick serve is much improved from two years ago, and she is often able to out-strategize her opponents. Her ball placement is constantly improving.”

Dixon, Rodier, Smithfield-Selma’s Caroline Carter and Bella Duncan of Corinth Holders all qualified for regional play in singles.

They’ll be joined by Two Rivers doubles champs Bailey Williams and Haley Melgarejo of Triton won beat Cleveland’s Anna Kate Gilchrist and Raleigh Keenan in a three-set championship match. Other Triton — Lindsey Malone and Kaylen Page — and Cleveland — Sarah Rose and Abby Siegert — doubles pairs earned the remaining regional bids.

Clayton entries will be top GNRC seeds: The Greater Neuse River 4A Conference cancelled its year-end tournaments leaving regular-season records to determine the regional championship qualifiers.

Carmelle Joyner enters at the No. 1 singles seed. The three-time GNRC singles champion is 14-0 on the season.

Clayton’s Sydney Rushing and Crystal Andersen will be the top doubles seed. They were 5-0 together on the season.

Other singles qualifiers from the conference were Rolesville’s Jade Houston (No. 2), Knightdale’s Diamond Odouk (No. 3), Cassidy Wilson of Garner (No. 4) and West Johnston’s Jessica Reese (No. 5).

In doubles play, West’s Carmen Juarez and Carrington Mack will be the No. 2 seed, followed by Rolesville’s Nikoro Uzoho and Katie Nyugen, Garner’s Christine Wilkins and Jamie Povich and Clayton’s Hannah Kellum and Stephanie Wilder.

Panthers duo surprises: North Johnston’s double steam of Lanie Headley and Abby Morris beat the No. 4-, 2- and 1-seeded teams along the way to the Eastern Plains 2A Conference doubles championship on Monday. Headley and Morris also battled back from a set deficit in the championship match against Washington’s Logan Crisp and Nechelle Everette for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Morris and Headley will advance to the 2A regionals. As will their Panthers’ teammate, Emily Benedict who made it to the semifinal round of the EPC tournament to claim her regional berth.

D. Clay Best: 919-524-8895, @dclaybest