The Lake Norman tennis program has a family feel to it like no other team in the state. The main reason is because the head coaches, Lezlie and Chris Carroll, are husband and wife. While Lezlie is officially the girls' tennis head and Chris is the boys', the couple make nearly every coaching decision and move together.
“It is great to have the perspective of two instead of one,” Lezlie Carroll said. “Tennis is a big part of our conversations away from school as well, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves to have a life away from it to keep a balance.”
So far, the second-year coaching duo is doing just fine. After the Lake Norman boys' team (17-1) enjoyed their best season in school history this spring, the Wildcat girls are off to a perfect 7-0 start.
Lake Norman hasn't had an easy schedule early, with victories over perennial 3A powerhouses Statesville and Newton-Conover as well as 4A Hopewell and North Meck.
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One of the major reasons is the addition of the state's No. 1 player, Kathryn Talbert.
Talbert, who has attended Statesville Christian and Smith-Sterns Academy until coming to Lake Norman second semester last year, is ranked not only No. 1 in North Carolina (U.S. Tennis Association), but also No. 9 in the South (among nine states) and No. 55 in the country.
Talbert, who has a 14-0 record in doubles and singles this year, has not lost a game in singles and has only lost two games overall with her doubles partner, Hayley Hammond.
“(Kathyrn Talbert) has made an immediate impact on our team and in the polls,” Carroll said, adding that Talbert is rated as high as No. 28 in the nation in girls' tennis recruiting lists among high school seniors. “She is very happy to be playing for her public school and feels more like a real teenager.”
Talbert is not your typical teenager, as she is being heavily recruited by Fresno State, Northwestern, Syracuse and William & Mary. She has already received offers from Mississippi, Tennessee and Southern Methodist University and is planning visits to Florida State, UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest this month.
But while Talbert's short career at Lake Norman has been impressive, she isn't the whole team. No. 2 Shruthi Rajan and No. 3 Hammond are also top-notch players. Rajan made the state tournament in doubles a season ago, while Hammond, who sat out 2007 with a torn ACL, was the Wildcats former No. 1 player.
“We have three very strong players at the top,” Carroll said. “Our No. 4 through No. 9 are still battling for positions.”
Those players fighting for spots include Madison Sherrett, Regan Patterson, Laurel Rowe, Britta Huibers, Taylor Purvis and Morgan Vlalich.
Mooresville tailback Jjshaun Pinkston is off to an unbelievable start in his senior season. Pinkston has accounted for 430 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in his first two games. Pinkston had 175 yards on the ground and three touchdowns in a 23-21 upset victory over A.L. Brown last week. Pinkston says he plans to visit Appalachian State this month.
North Me ck
North Meck's Kimberly Spano continues to win. Spano won the 5K at McAlpine Park in a team meet with Charlotte Catholic, North Meck Gastonia Ashbrook and East Meck. Spano finished in 19:07, 1 minute and 49 seconds ahead of the Vikings' (North Meck) Megan Sullivan.
North Meck's Joe Rao won the boys' side of the same meet with a time of 17:36.
After winning 60 consecutive games, including two state championships, the Lake Norman boys' soccer team's winning streak ended. Ironically, the Wildcats lost to archrival Mooresville 2-0, the same team they last lost to in November 2005. Lake Norman (4-1) came five games short of the 65-consecutive win record set by Ben Lippen High in 1970. Carson Smith, who also kicked three extra points in Mooresville's upset of A.L. Brown in football this week, and Daniel Calderon scored for Mooresville (6-0-2). The Blue Devils got consecutive wins over ranked opponents Northwest Cabarrus and Lake Norman.