The most successful season in the history of the Orange women’s tennis team is over. But for Erinn and Shannon Sollars, it will continue on Friday in the 3A state doubles tournament.
Last week, the Sollars sisters finished runner-up in doubles play at the 3A Mideast Regionals at the Burlington Tennis Center. In the 16-team tournament, only the tandems that reach the semifinals quality for the 3A State Tournament. In the opening round, Erinn and Shannon Sollars defeated Sophie McLean and Andrea Romero of Harnett Central 6-0, 6-3. In the second round, which a trip to the state championships on the line, the Sollars defeated Destyn Rader and Ryan Tinervin 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 to advance to the semifinals.
On Saturday, the Sollars advanced to the regional championship match with a straight sets victory over Sophie Blankenship and Hannah Johnson of Terry Sanford 6-3, 6-2. With the victory, the Sollars became the first Orange doubles team to play for a 3A Regionals championship.
Cape Fear’s Brooke Bieniek and Anna Poland, the defending 3A State Champions, defeated the Sollars for the Mideast Regional championship. Earlier in the tournament, Bieniek and Poland defeated Orange’s other team to qualify for the regional championships, Sydney Rogers and Makayla Davis.
The Sollars became the first duo from Hillsborough to quality for the 3A State Championships since Cedar Ridge’s Olivia Ward and Alana Lutz in 2018.
In the opening round of the 3A State Tournament on Friday morning, the Sollars will face Ellie Holtzman and Berkley Geyer of Hickory High. It is another 16-team tournament.
This season, the Sollars are 17-4 as a team. They helped Orange win a share of its first conference championship in school history. The Lady Panthers tied Walter Williams for first place in the Central Carolina Conference with an 11-1 mark. In Orange’s 5-4 win over Williams on September 26, the Sollars earned the victory that essentially clinched the dual match, beating Abigail Brown and Jaden Wilson 9-7 at #1 doubles.
This season, Orange won a school-record 19 matches and reached the second round of the 3A State Dual Team Tournament. On Tuesday, Fike defeated Orange 6-0 in Wilson to advance to the second round. The Golden Demons, the champions of the Quad County Conference, avenged its loss to Orange in the opening round of the 2021 Dual Tournament. Rogers, who was undefeated in singles play this year for Orange, didn’t play on Tuesday due to an injury.
The loss ended Orange’s 15-match winning streak, a school record.
This season was the first time where the Sollars exclusively teamed together during doubles action. While they did team up at times during the 2021 campaign, they spent the majority of matches with other players.
They started playing doubles together in middle school at the downtown Mebane clinics on Saturday afternoons. After taking a few years off, they returned to the game when they started at Orange High. Last season, they helped Orange to a 16-5 record. Up to that point, it was the most successful season in team history. In the 2021 Mideast Regionals, Erinn Sollars teamed with Jera Hargrove, who is now a freshman at Tuskegee University. Shannon Sollars teamed with Tea Jones, who has also graduated.
Erinn Sollars, a junior, was Orange’s top singles players this season. She had 28 overall wins in 2022, including eleven singles victories. Shannon Sollars, a sophomore, was Orange’s #2 singles player and finished with an 13-6 singles record. She has 30 overall victories.
In other action in the 3A State Dual Tournament, Cape Fear defeated Walter Williams 5-1 in the second round on Tuesday.