The Cedar Ridge Girls Tennis team is moving on to the 3A State Quarterfinals after winning its 18th consecutive dual match on Wednesday.
The Red Wolves defeated Burlington Williams 5-3 in the 2nd round of the 3A state playoffs on a brisk Tuesday afternoon at Red Wolves Tennis Courts. Cedar Ridge (19-1) advances to face Cape Fear Valley Conference Co-Champion Terry Sanford on Thursday at 4:0o in Hillsborough.
As usual, the 3-6 singles players carried things for the Red Wolves. Senior Co-Captain Leah Thompson defeated Emily Rothsburg 6-1, 6-1. Serena Sauers put away Hannah Sumnter 6-1, 6-4. Alana Lutz put Cedar Ridge ahead for good with a 6-1, 6-1 win oer Maddie McHugh. Kate Milner put the Red Wolves ahead 4-2 in singles with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Hannah Higgins.
After never having claimed a conference championship in school history, the Red Wolves not only won the Big 8 Conference this year, but swept longtime power Chapel Hill. It was no surprise to head coach Lennie Corbett.
“I expected big things from this team,” said Corbett. “I felt something extra from this squad right from the start of this season. I thought they could win the conference.”
Increased expectations led to an increased workload. During a sultry summer where temperatures were still in the mid-90s in the early evening, Corbett had his team doing extra footwork drills and more running.
“It’s paid off,” said Corbett. “They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do and they haven’t complained. Our stamina has been better than anyone we’ve faced this year. We had a solid two weeks of 2 hour sessions before our first match with Eastern Alamance.”
The addition of freshman Olivia Ward at #2 singles was another benefit. Freshman usually don’t start until later in their careers. Ward, the daughter of Person High tennis coach Lynn Ward, was ready to contribute immediately.
“That helped tremendously,” said Corbett. “She was ready to play right away. Plus, we had our girls coming back. We got to push down girls who would have been playing singles a little higher. Alana Lutz have moved in to the 5 position and that has made us stronger. It’s worked out really well.”
The doubles team of Thompson and Lutz captured the victory with a 10-3 victory, sending the Red Wolves into the 3rd round of the state playoffs for the first time in school history.
The depth of Cedar Ridge’s singles play continued to pay dividends. 3-through-6 singles, usually comprised of Thompson, Sauers, Hanna Spear and Milner, are now a combined 56-1 this season.
Thompson improved to 15-1 on the season, while Sauers is now undefeated at 16-0. Milner is now 15-0.
Cedar Ridge will face a Terry Sanford team on Thursday that has only lost to Cape Fear Valley Conference rival Union Pines and Pinecrest.