Vikings Roll On in Tennis
The Union Pines girls’ tennis team defeated Eastern Wayne 6-0 Tuesday in the second round of the 3-A dual team state playoffs in Cameron.
With the victory the Lady Vikings improved to 17-0 and will host a quarterfinals dual playoff match on Monday back at John S. Frye Tennis Facility. Their opponent will be Carolina Conference top-seed Cardinal Gibbons (18-6).
Viking senior and No. 4 singles player Laura Cameron won her 107th match in the postseason dual, moving into career position No. 23. Her record as a Vike improved to 107-18 with the victory, which got the Vikes on the board with a 1-0 lead.
“I am really, really excited,” said Cameron. “Just knowing it’s my senior year — in the past I would always be like ‘Well, we will do better next year’ — but now there is not going to be a next year (for me). So I am just really excited we made it this far and I hope we can keep going.
“We have a great singles team (lineup) from No. 1 through No. 6. Certainly Mary Beth (Jackson) gets the job done and so does Melissa (Tally). Then having Madi (Kramer) back (from a sustained shoulder injury) is great, not only because she is a great player, but it also puts myself, Elena (D’Argenio) and Megan (Smith) in a position to more likely win our (singles) matches.”
Not long after Cameron exited court No. 4, Tally won the No. 2 match for Union Pines. Minutes later a victory from Union Pines No. 3 Kramer gave the Vikings a 3-0 lead.
The squad’s fourth point came from Cameron’s longtime doubles partner D’Argenio. D’Argenio is one of four seniors comprising Union Pines’ lineup along with Kramer, Cameron and Tally,
“I have really enjoyed this season and playing doubles with Laura,” said D’Argenio, who claimed a second consecutive 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference doubles title with Cameron this season.
“There are certain things Laura is great at,” D’Argenio said, “and there are others things I do well. We also have really strong communication, so we are able to put it all together so that it works perfectly.
“Overall as a team things have been going great for us in doubles as well. I just think we are strong in doubles all the way through. Madi has always been really great and just a strong doubles player. So she and Megan are really good together. And Mary Beth and Melissa are just amazing — I don’t quite know how to explain that combo — they are just really good.”
Despite the Vikings’ proven prowess in doubles play, the team did not have to send its three duos out for competition in Tuesday’s round two dual.
Freshman Megan Smith, playing as the No. 6 player, clinched the contest for Union Pines by earning a straight-set victory in singles to give the Vikings an insurmountable 5-0 lead.
“It is amazing to know I can help out my team so much,” said Smith. “I think we have come together as a unit these past few weeks more than ever and we are playing more as a team now that we are getting further into it.”
The 6-0 playoff victory was the second for Union Pines in the postseason, as the Vikings have yet to play doubles in the 2012 dual team playoffs.
In the main event of the evening, Jackson — the Vikes top singles player — fell down a set before hitting a higher gear. Then the freshman found her stride in set two, against Savannah Sutton, to power through behind powerful ground strokes and a rocket serve on her way to 6-3 victory before slamming the door with a dominating 10-3 winning performance in the tiebreaker to preserve the shutout for the Vikings.
Union Pines will send Jackson and Tally, in singles, along with Cameron and Elena D’Argenio, in doubles, to compete in the two-day 3-A NCHSAA individual state championships, starting today (Friday) in Burlington.
After his squad clinched the match against Eastern Wayne (15-3), the top seed from the Eastern Carolina Conference, Union Pines head coach John Frye talked about the Vikings’ positive postseason momentum both in the dual team and individual playoffs.
“This is an exciting time for us as a program and the girls, of course,” said Frye. “For Mary Beth this will be her first venture into the state championships, while it’s Melissa third time being there. It is special and it is truly tougher, honestly, to make it to the states in singles than doubles.
“These two girls have just been head-to-head all year. They are great friends but it is also a great rivalry. The hitting has been superlative between them all year and now they are both going to end up in state championship this weekend.”
Jackson topped Tally, who entered the league tourney as the two-time defended singles champion, by a score 10-7 in the conference singles title match two weeks ago. Then last weekend match at the Mideast Regional, Tally bested Jackson in straight sets (6-4, 7-5) to capture victory in the third-place match.
“It is the first time since 1992 that we have put two Lady Vikings’ singles girls into the state,” said Frye. “That was 20 years ago, so naturally here at Union Pines we are excited about these two young ladies’ success.”
Union Pines 6 Eastern Wayne 0
Singles – Jackson (UP) defeated Savannah Sutton 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, (10-3); Tally (UP) def. Faith Sutton 7-5, 6-1; Kramer (UP) def. Grace Delbridge 6-4, 6-2; Cameron (UP) def. McKenna Dove 6-0, 6-1; D’Argenio (UP) def. Cameron Dove 6-0, 7-5; Smith (UP) def. Brittney Brinson EW 6-1, 7-5.
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