PILOT MOUNTAIN — In any other conference in the state, East Surry probably would have had opening day of the 2016 NCHSAA 1A state tennis playoffs off. But it wasn’t any inconvenience for state’s sixth-ranked team.
The Lady Cardinals needed less than 90 minutes to advance to the second round, sweeping all six singles matches against visiting Starmount High School to advance to a second-round date against Pine Lake Prep on Tuesday of next week.
East Surry (17-3 overall) won all but one of the matches in straight sets. At No. 6, the Lady Cardinals’ Carson Payne and Starmount’s Jojo Welborn split sets, but Payne won the tiebreaker 10-5 in the final match of the evening to be completed.
Since East had already locked up the team win, the doubles matches were not contested and the match went into the books as a 6-0 win for the Lady Cardinals.
Going down the line, Haley Jennelle defeated Emily Mendenhall 6-2, 6-1; Klaudia Tucker beat Alyssa Hicks 6-3, 6-2; Abigail Martin downed Cherith McCullough 6-0, 6-1; Sarah Mann stopped Mick Morley 6-0, 6-1; Mikayla Manuel won 6-3, 7-5 over Sarryn Meyer, and Payne outlasted Welborn 3-6, 6-3, (10-5).
Pine Lake Prep (8-2-1), located in Mooresville, won the title in the Southern Piedmont 1A Conference this season. The league consists mostly of non-traditional schools, not all of whom play tennis. PLP lost two of its first three matches, against North Iredell and Gray Stone Day, but is unbeaten in seven matches since Aug. 25, all against conference rivals and other teams from its area. The team had a bye in Tuesday’s first round as the No. 2 overall seed.