Vike Tennis Earns Big Playoff Win
The Union Pines Lady Viking tennis team defeated Burlington Williams 5-4 Tuesday in the district championship round of the NCHSAA 3A dual team playoffs.
After the match, Union Pines’ head coach John Frye said, “My girls played a quality opponent on the road and came away with a victory that we could not have won in September.
“Melissa Tally, Madi Kramer and Virginia Priest would not be denied in singles giving us a split,” he said, “and Tally-Kramer and Priest-Shannon Simpson came up big in doubles scoring the decisive points.”
It is the first time since 2006 that Union Pines has made it past the second round in postseason dual team play. That year, the Vikes went all the way to state finals by winning the East Region, before eventually falling 5-1 to Hickory to finish as the 3A state runner-up.
In Tuesday’s postseason match, everything came down to a tiebreaker in the No. 1 doubles match. With all other matches completed, Union Pines’ sophomore duo of Melissa Tally and Madi Kramer prevailed 7-3 in a tiebreaker to secure the match-winning point for the visiting Vikings.
Tally, who recently won the Cape Fear Valley singles championship and was a singles finalist in the 2010 Mid-East Regional Tournament, said playing in the deciding match was exciting but nerve-racking.
“The match stayed tight the whole time and the pressure didn’t sink in until we knew the team’s playoff fate was in our hands,” Tally said. “The best part was definitely after match point, with all the joy and relief of being on our way to the next round.
“After we won, you could just feel the excitement in the air and I think everyone would agree that it was an exciting milestone for the team. Madi and I played with our heads, didn’t try to overpower the other girls, and worked together to win the match. We really played as a team, and that is what gave us the edge over our opponents in the end.”
Kramer, like Tally, is fresh off her second All-Conference season, and recently won her second CFVC doubles title along with Laura Cameron.
“Well, to start with, that match was crazy,” Kramer said, describing the deciding doubles tilt. “It was definitely the best tennis Melissa and I have played this whole year. I felt like we knew what we had to do and just played the best we could to get the job done. We never got down if we missed a shot and just wanted to have fun but play good at the same time.
“The fact that our entire team was sitting there watching us and praying we would win kind of boosted us to play the best we could. After I put away an overhead volley our whole crowd went wild and it hit me — wow we just won.”
Kramer said reality really struck after she received a visit at school the following morning.
“It really sank in when (assistant principal) Mr. Thomas came to my first period class and personally congratulated me. To know that every one of the girls tried their hardest Tuesday and that enabled us to pull through make this all even more special.”
Due to top-seeding priority, Union Pines will host Cardinal Gibbons in the sectional finals of the NCHSAA 3A dual team tennis state tournament this coming Tuesday at the John S. Frye Tennis Facility, with the winner advancing on to the eastern regional finals.
Cardinal Gibbons (18-8) is currently ranked third in the NCHSTA 3A poll and defeated fifth-ranked Nash Central 6-0 in the second round of the playoffs. The Lady Vikings improved to 17-1 on the season with their playoff victory against Burlington Williams in the district finals, and are currently the eighth-ranked 3A team.
Tally admitted that Tuesday will be another challenging tennis competition for Union Pines.
“Cardinal Gibbons is most definitely going to be a tough match,” Tally said, “and everybody is going to have to be playing the best we can. If we all keep to our game plans and stay in the match, hopefully we’ll be able to pull out another playoff win.”
Kramer echoed her playing partner’s sentiments but remained optimistic as well.
“We all know that Cardinal Gibbons has had the reputation of being really good but we have great players too,” Kramer said, “so I feel that we can give them a good match. If the team plays the best we can I truly feel that we can pull through on Tuesday.”
The third-round playoff match between the Lady Vikings and the Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2 in Cameron.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com
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