On a sun-splashed day at Ardrey Kell at the N.C. West Girls 4A Tennis Regionals, 12 players earned a trip to the state finals next Saturday in Raleigh.
No. 1 seeded Lauren Gish of Lake Norman High School continued her unbeaten streak by besting Ardrey Kell’s Hailey Simon, the No. 3 seed in the regional singles final, 6-3, 6-3.
In the consolation singles match for third place, Myers Park’s Maddie Weber defeated Hough’s Gabby Moore 6-3, 6-3. Weber and Moore will join Gish and Simon at the state finals.
Gish hasn’t lost a set all season, easily winning the Northern Piedmont 4A regular-season and conference tournament championships. The Wildcats sophomore breezed into Saturday’s regional final having dropped only one game.
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Simon was another sophomore trying to ruin Gish’s unbeaten 2014 campaign. Simon took six games from Gish and was her toughest competitor to date. The two-set match lasted nearly an hour and forty-five minutes.
The defense by both players was remarkable. There were very few winners and only one ace (delivered by Gish), as both players stood at the baseline staging long rallies before one would finally hit an unforced error.
“I thought I played really well today, especially when I needed to on big points,” said Gish. “It was really good tennis and I’m glad I pulled it out.”
While disappointed in losing, Simon felt she reached her goals in getting to the regional and qualifying for the state finals. “I feel like I played my heart out,” she said. “She’s (Gish) a really great player and I feel like a player at her level brings up my level as well.”
Gish will be highly seeded if not the No. 1 singles seed at the state tournament. Lake Norman coach Christy Warren talked about what she’ll tell Gish prior to the state finals. “I’m just going to tell her to believe because I know that she has the ability,” she said. “There are going to be some close matches but she has the confidence. If she has that she can push through anything.”
The doubles final was an all-Charlotte Catholic affair. McKinley Riley and Catie Nelson bested Cougars teammates Rachel Marthinsen and Megan Leonard in a three-set final 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. In the doubles third-place consolation match, sisters Gaby and Katie Soden of Myers Park defeated Haley Tan and Sullivan Higson of Providence 1-6, 6-3, 7-6.
The top four doubles teams all earned state finals entries.