Vikings' Wanko Finishes Second
Commentary on this story on Tuesday's Headlines Podcast .
Neena Wanko accomplished something on Saturday not often seen in high school tennis circles.
The Union Pines singles player made it to the championship match of the 3-A Mideast Regional championship as a freshman. She was defeated 6-2, 7-5 by defending champion Winnie Quick of Dudley.
"That was big time," Viking coach John Frye said of Wanko's performance throughout the event held at Burlington Tennis Center. "I don't think Quick was surprised, but Neena got her attention early. It was a real battle."
Wanko breezed through the first three rounds without losing a set. Frye called the first set against Quick, the defending regional champion, a chess match with both players deciding on the moves they would make later. The second set was tied at 5-5 when Quick won a couple of closely contested games for the title.
All six of the Viking players making the trip reached at least the quarterfinals. Seniors Katie Kelly and Natasha Whetzel lost to Margaret and Carolyn Kernodle of Burlington Williams in one of the semifinal matches of the doubles competition. The Viking pair finished fourth after dropping a playoff match for the third spot.
Wanko, Kelly and Whetzel have all qualified for the state tournament scheduled for Friday and Saturday, also at Burlington Tennis Center. It is the first trip to the state level for all three.
Also for the Vikings, sophomore Lydia Stalls in singles, and seniors Maura Lenahan and Kendra Black in doubles, were knocked out in the quarterfinals. Stalls was also a victim of Quick.
"All six of our players played very well," Frye said.
Union Pines faced Kernodle and Kernodle again on Tuesday when it entertained Williams in a second-round state duals match.
"It's a pleasure to host such a quality team," Frye said of a Williams squad that knocked his team out in the third round last year, 5-4.
Saturday's wins moved Kelly, 130-14, into a tie for seventh place on the Viking career list with 1998 graduate Christy Allen.
Whetzel moved up the ladder to 98-12.
"I really want to see Natasha make 100 wins," Frye said. "I know she wants it, but her coach may want it more."
More like this story