Vikes Add Individual Honors to Team Title
Different year, same results.
Katie Kelly pulled off a double-double, Neena Wanko made quite a splash as a freshman, and the Union Pines girls' tennis team sent six players on to regional competition after last Saturday's individual conference tournament.
The tournament was held at New Century Middle School and Union Pines High School.
"It was a great day and a long afternoon filled with championships in Vikingland," said Viking coach John Frye Tuesday. "It was a great day for the kids. We did the same thing last year."
The same thing last year was sweeping both the singles and doubles individual Cape Fear Valley Conference titles, and sending six players on to the Mid-East Regional next Friday at the Burlington Tennis Center.
Kelly, a senior, claimed an unusual distinction for the Vikes. Last year's defending individual conference champion, she teamed up with senior Natasha Whetzel to claim the conference doubles' title this year.
In another little twist of fate, Whetzel had ended up as runner-up in singles competition last season.
"To have two seniors combine like to win a title was fantastic," Frye said. "Katie adds a doubles championship to her singles win, and now Whetzel has a championship.
"As a doubles team they looked as good as they have all year. They were really sharp."
Wanko, only a freshman, has looked sharp all season, and according to Frye, she polished off her opponents like a knife in winning the singles crown.
She didn't lose a game on her way to defeating teammate Lydia Stalls in the finals.
"Neena is just explosive out there," Frye said. "If her opponents hit her short balls, they weren't touching it again. She has so much pace on the ball that if she comes on a ball, her opponents rarely got a racket on the return."
As for Stalls, a sophomore, she did something Frye said he has not seen in his 25 years at the helm of the Vikings' girls' tennis program.
"That young woman played five matches in one day," he said. "I can't recall that ever happening in any of the years I've been here. She won four matches, and then was the only one to take a game from Neena."
Those four will be joined by the doubles team of Maura Lenahan and Kendra Black in the doubles portion of the regionals. Lenahan, a senior who had won two doubles crowns while teamed with ex-Viking Danica Wanko, joined Black, a senior, this season to qualify for regionals in doubles play.
"All three of my seniors get to keep playing," Frye said. "Last year, Kendra Black let Amanda Evans play in the singles, so it was really special to see her advance."
The Vikings, who finished the season with a perfect 14-0 mark and a team conference championship, are also getting ready for the state 3-A duals tournament. They are scheduled to play next Tuesday in a home match against the No. 2 seed out of the Triad Conference.
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