The Myers Park boys’ and girls’ tennis teams were perfect last season.
Mustangs’ coach Ed Flynn led both groups to a combined 42-0 record that included two N.C. 4A state championships.
Last fall, the Mustangs girls capped off a 21-0 season with a 5-4 win over Cary Green Hope in the finals. Myers Park had painfully lost in the finals in 2014 and 2015. But in 2016, Myers Park won 161 matches as a team, dropping just 10.
Now, the Mustangs’ tennis teams will begin to eye a repeat of their 2016 success. The girls are up first.
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“I’m trying to compartmentalize that whole (42-0) year, because it’s something I don’t think will happen again, and it’s something I never thought would happen in the first place,” Flynn said. “Last year was great. But last year was last year. Now, we have to go out and play this year. We know we’re going to have a target on our backs as the (defending) state champion. But that’s a good place to be.”
Myers Park senior, co-captain, Leah Wallihan, part of the doubles’ team in the deciding match in the state finals, says this team has moved forward.
“Last year was like a dream come true, but right after the season we were already thinking of next year and looking at our team and how we’d matchup with other teams, thinking about our next goal,” said Wallihan. “I know we lost some good players like Maddie Weber (No. 1), but I believe we can still win it all. But we know we’re going to have work really hard to get back there (championship). That effort started the day after we won last year.”
The Mustang girls’ have three starters returning in Wallihan, junior Emily Holderness and sophomore Halle Futch. Senior co-captains Catie Holshouser and Elisabeth Drake also provide experience.
And Charlotte Country Day transfer, sophomore Katie Weber, should also challenge for a top spot in the lineup. Weber is the younger sister of Maddie Weber, last season’s No. 1 player.
“The depth and talent we’ve had has been a huge part of our success,” Flynn said. “We’ve not only had girls step in and play well in matches, but our players also push each other to be at their best every day in practice. That helps makes us better every day.”
The Myers Park girls’ tennis team won’t waste any time figuring out just how good they are as they open with Ardrey Kell Thursday, starting a brutal stretch of four matches against state powers in three days.
But for a team that is 53-2 in the last three years, the ultimate goal remains the same.
“I can safely say that winning the state championship was the best feeling I’ve had in my life,” Wallihan said. “The rush of adrenaline and the feeling of accomplishment is something we will never forget. Now, we all are chasing that feeling (state championship) again.”