WINSTON-SALEM — While tennis is generally thought of as a game of individual athletes, team tennis requires that everyone pull together and give their all for success.
Surry Central needed the contributions of every player in the lineup on Monday night to keep their dominance of the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference alive, and they got it.
Central’s 64-match league winning streak was on the line at Atkins, whose top two players, Diana Alexandrov and Yinka Mason, have been among the state’s best junior tennis players for the last three years. Essentially, the Lady Golden Eagles came into the match knowing there was a good chance the Camels were going to pick up three wins, at Nos. 1 and 2 singles and at No. 1 doubles, and Central knew it could lose just one other match.
No problem. The Lady Eagles didn’t lose any of the others. And they came close to winning two of the ones they reasonably expected to lose.
Hannah Pardue came roaring back from a first-set loss to Alexandrov, won the second set, and lost narrowly in the tiebreaker, 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 (10-7). Sarah Marion was down a couple of breaks to Mason and lost 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 singles, but the doubles match involving these four players went to an extra point before Atkins won it 9-7.
It’s not likely the Lady Eagles even cared by that point.
Rachel Carter got the visitors off to a good start when she double-bageled Maurissa Jackson at No. 6 singles. Mamie Smith, playing at No. 5, was almost as dominant. She lost just two games in a first-set win over Simran Yadagama and then shut her out in set two. Haily Robertson rolled to a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 3 over Area Leslie.
A key moment in the match came at No. 3 singles, where Central’s Mattie-Grace Snow narrowly lost the opening set and then crushed Sommer Stephens in set two. The tiebreaker went an extra point, but Snow got the win, 4-6, 6-1, 1-0 (11-9). Thanks to Snow, Central went into doubles needing just one more win.
Smith and Carter skunked Yadagama and Jackson at No. 3 doubles, and the Lady Eagles knew they would leave Winston with a perfect 5-0 league mark. Snow and Robertson made sure there was no doubt by beating Stephens and Leslie 8-4.
Surry Central (7-1 overall), the state’s ninth-ranked 2A team according to the N.C. Tennis Coaches Association, hosts West Stokes today.