Patriots Send Six to Regionals
Darkness was beginning to set in as Chrissy Nurnberg was defeated 6-1 in the first set of her consolation final singles match in Tuesday's Southeastern Conference tennis tournament.
The Pinecrest freshman was playing her fourth match in a day of competition that began at noon at the Pinehurst Resort. About the only lights still on at the tennis center at 7:55 p.m. when she finished a 1-6, 6-4 and 7-5 victory over Eleanor Sojka of Scotland County were the ones shining on the one court.
Afterward, Nurnberg had a simple explanation for what kept her going in spite of losing the first set so decisively.
"Well, I really wanted to go to regionals," she said.
That was the main motivation for all of the Patriot players on a team that finished the regular season as conference champion with an overall record of 12-0. All six that played on Tuesday qualified for the East Regional to be held at Terry Sanford on Oct. 23-24.
Seniors Brooke McLean and Hailey Cioccolanti defeated junior teammates Mariotti Meyers and Caroline Hudson 6-2, 6-4 for the conference doubles title. All four advanced to the regional along with sophomore Ally Parziale, who was defeated 6-0, 6-2 in the singles final by Scotland's Jessie Boda.
For McLean and Cioccolanti, it will be their third trip to the regional as doubles partners. In 2007, they also qualified for the state tournament, while Parziale made it all the way to states as a freshman.
Tuesday's doubles final against teammates did not carry the intensity normally associated with such occasions. But that will change when they travel to Terry Sanford.
"We could have played and been more serious," McLean said. "We had fun today and that's what matters. We're going all out at regionals. No nerves. Nothing getting in the way. This is our senior year so we're going for it."
The day was playing out about as expected for Pinecrest coach Gail Deese.
"I thought this would happen," she said of the four doubles players and Parziale qualifying for the regional. "I'm real proud of Chrissy too. She was our No. 6 player and she beat the No. 1 from Purnell Swett to advance to the semifinals.
Deese's remarks came after Nurnberg lost her semifinal match 6-2, 6-0 to Boda but before the consolation final that would determine the last regional singles qualifier from the conference.
The championship and consolation finals were originally scheduled to be held on Thursday, but it was decided to complete the tournament in one day because of an unfavorable weather forecast.
Late in the first set against Sojka, a junior and the Scots' No. 2 player, Deese noticed Nurnberg's arm was dropping on her serve, a sign of fatigue. The second set was tied 4-4 before the Patriot player won the final two games to extend the match.
The 25 or so spectators looked on spellbound in set three as the pair mixed in cautious defensive play with brilliant winners. Nurnberg went up 6-5 with the seventh service break of the set. Moments later, she ended the match with a drop shot that Sojka couldn't get to in time.
"I wasn't expecting to play it at night like this, but with the weather coming in it was good," Deese said. "Chrissy just pulled it out. She was very steady and both girls played well."
As the first seed from the Southeastern, Pinecrest is scheduled to entertain the second seed from the Greater Neuse River Conference in the first round of the 4A State Dual Championships on Tuesday.
Pinecrest made out pretty well in the awards department after its undefeated regular season.
By a vote of the six coaches of the Southeastern Conference, all-conference honors went to Parziale, McLean, Cioccolanti, Mariotti Meyers and Antonia Meyers of the Patriots. Honorable mention selections were Nurnberg and Hudson.
Boda won Player of the Year honors and Deese was voted Coach of the Year. The other all-conference picks were Sojka and Sara Harling (Scotland), Jessica Broadwell and Anna Fowlkes (Lumberton), Kelsey Hunt (Purnell Swett), Erin Lowery (Hoke) and Lauren Grant (Richmond).
Contact Charlie Bergmann at firstname.lastname@example.org
More like this story