Published: Oct 17, 2011 07:22 PM
Modified: Oct 17, 2011 07:36 PM
CARY - Green Hope reigns as the five-time Tri-Nine Conference girls tennis team regular-season champion, but one of the two individual tournament titles has been wrested from the Falcons' grasp.
Panther Creek sophomore Megan Smith swept through the singles tournament with four wins in two days, capped by Thursday afternoon's victories in the semifinals and finals.
Smith, the No. 1 seed, was tested only in the final, when she needed a third-set tiebreaker to defeat No. 2 seed Audrey Channell of Green Hope 6-2, 2-6, 1-0 (10-3).
"I'm definitely proud I won this tournament," Smith said. "I wasn't really thinking about (what school) I was playing against. I was just trying to play hard."
A Green Hope player had won the Tri-Nine singles title the last three years. Melissa Kandinata, now playing at Richmond, won in 2010 and 2009, and Helen Wang, who won the Tri-Nine doubles title for the second straight year, won in singles in 2008.
Channell, a junior, was the only Tri-Nine player to challenge Smith during the season. Smith was 12-0 in the regular-season conference matches, with only Channell pushing her to a third-set tiebreaker.
Smith beat Channell 6-4, 6-1 on Sept. 12, but Channell extended her to a third-set tiebreaker in their Oct. 7 rematch before Smith won 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-7).
"Megan is a really good player and one of my really good friends," Channell said. "We know each others' strengths and weaknesses. It's always a tough match."
In the semis, Smith defeated Green Hope freshman Jurasia Horvat, 6-1, 6-1, as Smith lost only four games in the first three matches before facing Channell. She won 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and 6-2, 6-0 in the second.But while Smith was cruising, Channell had to survive a nearly two-hour semifinal before edging Cary's Hannah Jabusch 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (12-10). After a 20-minute break, Channell was locked in another nearly two-hour match with Smith.A year ago, Channell teamed with Wang to win the Tri-Nine doubles title, but this year Channell opted for singles as Green Hope's No. 1 singles player. Wang played doubles with sophomore Priyanka Srinivas.
Wang, a senior, and sophomore Srinivas defeated Holly Springs sophomores Bailey Edwards and Kristen Flanagan 6-2, 6-3.
Wang finished her Tri-Nine career with three conference titles: singles as a freshman and doubles as a junior and senior. She was a finalist every year, falling to Kandinata in singles as a sophomore in 2009.
"I thought Priyanka and I complemented each other well," Wang said. "I rely on my volley and she's a steady ground-stroke player."
In the doubles semifinals, Wang and Srinivas defeated Panther Creek's Brooke Namboodri and Marjorie Primm 6-2, 6-1, and Edwards and Flanagan beat Green Hope's Amelia Channell and Brantley Belk 6-2, 6-4.
The Tri-Nine has six berths in the regional tournament beginning Oct. 21 at Millbrook Exchange Park. All the Tri-Nine semifinalists in singles and doubles advanced, plus the winners of two back-draw matches.
In singles, Apex's Laura Williams defeated Middle Creek's Molly Pritchard 6-2, 6-2 and Panther Creek's Allie Nguyen beat Lee County's Elizabeth Gay 6-2, 6-1.
In doubles, Panther Creek's Claire Wach and Katie Ryan defeated Apex's Claire Baker and Grace Wickham 6-2, 7-5, and Fuquay-Varina's Sarah Biddix and Camille Baker beat Middle Creek's Joy White and Kelly Newman 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).