Vike Girls Advance In Tennis
There was vindication in more ways than one for the Union Pines girls' tennis team at home on Tuesday.
The Vikings defeated Burlington Williams 6-3 in the second round of the state 3-A duals, avenging a 5-4 loss to that team in last year's third round.
Maura Lenahan, who lost a pivotal singles tiebreaker to Williams' Megan Colonel last year, won on a tiebreaker over the same opponent this time to send the Vikings into the doubles tied at 3-3.
All three Viking duos won their doubles matches, setting up a third-round encounter at home against Wilson Fike next Tuesday.
"Maura's match was huge," Union Pines coach John Frye said after the junior won the tiebreaker 7-2. "Had she dropped that game, we'd be down 4-2 and it's real hard to come back from a deficit like that. She stuck in there and pulled that tiebreaker out."
Midway through the first sets, the Viking players led in all six singles matches. In the No. 1 slot, Neena Wanko won 6-2, 6-0 over a tough opponent in Margaret Kernodle.
"Neena just overpowered her," Frye said. "She hit a lot of shots in the corners and her opponent was having to run the baseline. That really wore her down."
The Vikings' Katie Kelly won her first set in the No. 2 singles 6-4, but Carolyn Kernodle rallied to beat her 7-5 in the second set and 7-3 in the tiebreaker. Kendra Black, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Lydia Allen, and Lenahan were the other singles winners for the Vikings.
After taking the first set 6-3, Lenahan, like Kelly, found herself in a position she did not want to be in.
"I won the first set pretty easily," Lenahan said. "And then it got really cold and everything tightens up when you're trying to stay warm. I was mad at myself that I let it go to that. But when I got in the tiebreaker, everybody was talking to me and cheering me on and it helped out."
As Lenahan came off the court, Wanko gave her a hug and said, "You're my hero."
Making the tiebreaker win by Lenahan especially critical was the fact that the first doubles team for Williams of Margaret Kernodle and Carolyn Kernodle won the East Regional championship last weekend. They defeated the Vikings' team of Katie Kelly and Natasha Whetzel 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals of that event.
In the first doubles match to conclude under the lights on Tuesday, Wanko and Black were 10-4 winners.
Frye calls Black a very fine doubles player.
"I've grown up a lot since my freshman year when I started playing doubles," Black said when told of her coach's compliment. "I'm really proud of myself for that. It's very important to me as a senior to keep going as long as I can."
Lenahan and Lydia Stalls were the next Viking doubles team to finish. Their 10-6 victory assured the Viking seniors of having at least one more dual team match.
But there was one more piece of vindication to come. Kelly and Whetzel came from behind to defeat Kernodle and Kernodle 10-8 in a match that produced some of the evening's best tennis.
"I really feel good about Katie and Natasha playing such a superb match," Frye said. "Burlington Williams is a quality team and you want to beat a quality team at this point in the season. They're so good and it could have gone either way."
Wanko in singles and Kelly and Whetzel in doubles are scheduled to compete in the state 3-A tournament at the Burlington Tennis Center today and Saturday.
Union Pines 6, Burlington Williams 3
Singles -- Neena Wanko (UP) defeated Margaret Kernodle 6-2, 6-0; Carolyn Kernodle (BW) defeated Katie Kelly 4-6, 5-7 (7-3); Helen Powell (BW) def. Natasha Whetzel 7-5, 6-1; Adele Henderson (BW) def. Lydia Stalls 7-5, 6-0; Maura Lenahan (UP) def. Megan Colonel 6-3, 5-7 (7-2); Kendra Black (UP) def. Lydia Allen 6-4, 6-1.
Doubles -- Kelly-Whetzel (UP) def. Kernodle-Kernodle 10-8; Wanko-Black (UP) def. Powell-Colonel 10-4; Stalls-Lenahan (UP) def. Henderson-Allen 10-6.
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