Vikings Ousted From Team Tennis Playoffs
Union Pines' girls tennis team's comeback bid fell just short Wednesday as its season ended in an epic 5-4 second round state playoff loss to Rocky Mount.
After singles play concluded, the visiting Vikings trailed the Gryphons 4-2 and needed wins in all three doubles matches to advance to the third round of the 3A dual team playoffs.
Union Pines proceeded to claim victories in the first two doubles tilts, knotting the affair at 4-all in the process with only the final match left in the balance.
However, Rocky Mount would ultimately take the last two games in the deciding doubles duel, scoring a 10-8 victory to take the overall match 5-4 and advance through to the third round.
Viking head coach John Frye felt that in the end, the extremely close contest was one where sound defense beat strong offense.
"This was a big match," Frye said, "one that we prepared for as much as possible. Rocky Mount is a really gifted defensive team. Not that they are without pace in their games, but they mastered the art of reducing unforced errors and simply made fewer mistakes. Our players combine power and finesse, but when facing an opponent like Rocky Mount that is talented with slices and lobs, it is a considerable challenge. This is because the offensive team is allowed few mistakes in such match-ups."
With their win, the Gryphons (17-4) got the better of Union Pines for the second straight season in the playoffs. Last year Rocky Mount upset the Vikings 6-3 in the opening round in Cameron.
In her final match as a Lady Vike, senior Jordan Smith posted a doubles victory to finish a stellar Union Pines career with an overall record of 98-14 and move to the 26th spot on the all-time Viking girls win list.
Two-time 3A Mid-East Regional champion and 2008 Class 3A runner-up Neena Wanko, also a senior, notched two wins for Union Pines, improving to 105-4 in her three-year career as a Lady Vike.
Union Pines finished the season with a record of 12-1 and won its fifth straight Cape Fear Valley Conference regular season championship with an undefeated league mark of 10-0.
Wanko and Smith, along with sophomore Brittany Jones and freshmen Melissa Tally, Madison Kramer and Laura Cameron, each earned 2009 all-conference honors.
After the match concluded, Frye was proud of the effort he received from his team not only in Wednesday's match but over the course of the entire season
"Our girls have played and conducted themselves all season as champions," said Frye. "We were a team that continued to improve throughout the year, and I fully expect our three state qualifiers to play well."
The doubles pair of Tally and Kramer will join Wanko at the 3A Individual State Tournament, which is being contested Friday and Saturday at the Burlington Tennis Center.
Rocky Mount 5, Union Pines 4
Singles -- Wanko (U) d. L. Thomas 6-1, 6-1; K. Gray (R) d. Tally 6-2, 6-2; A. Keeter (R) d. Smith 6-1, 6-4; Kramer (U) d. Caroline Nelson 7-5, 4-6 (10-5); M. Arroyd (R) d. Cameron 6-0, 6-2; J. Amend (R) d. Jones 6-1, 3-6 (10-7)
Doubles -- Wanko-Smith (U) d. Thomas-Gray 10-8; Tally-Kramer (U) d. Keeter-Nelson 10-5; Arroyd-Thompson (R) d. Cameron-Jones 10-8
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