Orange Women’s Tennis

Odds and Sods: Kruse, Mehl help Orange women’s tennis beat Eastern; Orange’s Schmid, Cedar Ridge’s Nyreng win cross country races

Women’s Tennis: Orange 9, Eastern Alamance 0: Sophomore Molly Kruse won two matches for the Orange women’s tennis team in a successful return to Central Carolina Conference action on Monday in Hillsborough.

Kruse defeated Madison Drewery 6-0, 6-0 at #2 singles. Later, Kruse teamed with senior Makayla Davis to defeat Drewery and Camila Rosa 8-1 at #1 doubles. It was Kruse’s first appearance at #1 doubles.

Erinn Sollars captured her match at #1 singles against Rosa 6-1, 6-0. Sophomore Kyla Mehl defeated Ryan Tanner 6-4, 6-3. Orange sophomore Linsday Woodell defeated Jayci White 6-0, 6-0. Another sophomore, Casey Robinson, won over Areli Silva-Flores 6-0, 6-0.

Adeline Alvis and Ellie Wilson defeated Tanner and White 8-1. Orange is 8-3 overall, 4-2 in the CCC. The Lady Panthers will host Western Alamance on Thursday.

Orange 9, Southern Alamance 0: Last Thursday, Orange won its first conference trip to Graham.

Erinn and Shannon Sollars won both of their singles matches, then teamed to win at #1 doubles. Erin defeated Paicey Cameron 6-1, 6-0. At #2 singles, Shannon defeated Madalyn Corbett 6-0, 6-0. The Sollars sisters defeated Faith Moore and Cameron 8-0.

Senior Makayla Davis, sophomore Molly Kruse and Kyla Mehl each won two matches against the Patriots. Davis defeated Morgan Isley 6-3, 6-0. At #5 singles, Kruse defeated Dayves Waggle 6-0, 6-0. Mehl defeated Ava Lynch 6-3, 6-1.

In the longest match of the day, Orange freshman Ellie Wilson defeated Morgan Edmunds 4-6, 6-4 13-11 (10-point tiebreaker) at #4 singles.

Davis and Kruse won at #2 doubles over Isley and Edmunds 6-4. Mehl teamed with senior Violet Shaw to defeat Corbett and Waggle 8-3.

Men’s Cross Country, Orange 15, Cedar Ridge 58, Southern Alamance 63: Orange hosted its annual cross country meet at Auman Stadium on September 12. Orange senior Gabriel Schmid, the defending 3A State individual champion running on his home course, earned his third win of the season finishing first at 17:25. Orange had the top six runners en route to a team victory.

Sophomore Myles Jerman (18:56) finished second, followed by Nolan Hufner (19:10), Alden Cathey (19:46), Peter Musser (20:04), Aiden Viola (20:21). Cedar Ridge’s top finisher was sophomore Ryan Matthews, who came in seventh at 20:55. Cedar Ridge sophomore Henry Alexander was 7th (20:56). Brian Dehart was the leading runner for Southern Alamance at 20:58.

Orange sophomore Lucas Van Mater came in 11th (20:33). Cedar Ridge senior Grayson Weisnfeld was 13th (21:48), while the Red Wolves Elie Nadiriwe was 14th (21:58).

The Orange men’s cross country team, which won the Mideast Regional Championship in 2021, has finished first in all of its Central Carolina Conference meets thus far in 2023.

Women’s Cross Country, Cedar Ridge 21, Orange 35: For the second time in two weeks, Cedar Ridge’s Naomi Dyreng finished first to help the Cedar Ridge women’s cross country team to a win inside Auman Stadium.

Dyreng, who won three regional championships at the Mideast Regional Track & Field Championship last year, finished first at 21:54. It was her second first place finish of the year. Abigail Klaitman of the Red Wolves came in second at 22:28. Caroline Cathey was the highest placer for Orange at 25:32.

Kate Finnegan of Cedar Ridge finished fourth (25:42) as the Red Wolves had six of the top ten finishers. Among the other Cedar Ridge runners to finish in the top ten: Cia Biddix finished sixth (25:47), Serena Summers came in eighth (26:02) and Anna Peterson finished 10th (27:04).

Orange’s Kassi Scarantino finished fifth at 25:45. Channing Mahaney came in seventh at 25:48. Orange’s Grace Pell crossed the finish line in 9th place (26:50).

Cedar Ridge had runners place 12th-through-15th. In 12th place was Rebecca Fullwood (27:21), while Gracie Whitaker finished 13th (27:28), Kaitlyn Horn was 14th (28:18) and Safiyya Frej was 15th (28:42).

The Central Carolina Conference cross country championships will be held in Burlington in Burlington on October 18. The 3A Mideast Regional Championships will take place at Louisburg High School on October 28. It’s a shift for the regional championships, which were held at Northwood High for years. Northwood moved down to 2A during the summer.

The 3A State Championships will take place at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville, it’s traditional home. The State Championships will take place on November 4.

Orange notebook: Jordan, Silcott push Panther volleyball to another road win; women’s tennis win CCC opener

Volleyball: Orange 3, Jordan 0: It’s been two weeks since the Orange volleyball team has had a home game, but they’ve adjusted just fine.

On Monday night, the Lady Panthers claimed its fourth straight road win with a sweep of Jordan in Durham. The Panthers never trailed in any of the sets, winning 25-18, 25-15 and 25-8. It marks the Panthers second win over the Falcons this year.

Sophomore Aubrey Jordan finished with ten kills and four digs. Senior Ella Wimsatt had 14 kills and 13 digs for Orange, who improved to 6-3 with its fourth straight win.

Sophomore setter Katie Silcott finished with 29 assists, three aces and a kill. It’s Orange’s third win over a 4A team.

Orange scored eight of the first nine points to begin the game, the first of several lengthy runs. Jordan started the game with a kill off a ball supplied by Silcott, followed by an ace from senior libero Sadye Porter. Jordan rolled off four out of five points to narrow Orange’s lead to 16-9, but the Panthers pulled out the frame when the Falcons hit the ball four times on set point. ‘Wimsatt and Ava Wilkerson each had three kills in the first set.

Jordan’s Taylor Shumate had a kill to even the second set at 4-4, one of only two times in the entire game there was a deadlock. Wimsatt followed with another point off a pass from Silcott, which triggered a 9-4 run that killed any possible drama in the second set. Wimatt had kills on the final two points of the set to put Orange ahead 2-0.

Wilkerson, a 6-4 sophomore, opened the third set with three kills as Orange built a 5-0 lead. The Lady Panthers followed with seven consecutive points, which included two aces by Silcott and two kills by Jordan. Wilkerson ended the match with a block off an attack attempt by Shumate, then notched a kill on match point.

Tonight (Tuesday), Orange will start its Central Carolina Conference slate with a road trip to Western Alamance. Last year, the Warriors extended Orange to five sets before the Lady Panthers won 15-13.

Tuesday’s trip to Elon will be Orange’s ninth straight game away from Hillsborough.

Women’s Tennis: Orange 8, Western Alamance 1: The Orange women’s tennis team opened defense of its 2022 CCC regular season championship with a convincing road win at Western Alamance on Monday night.

Shannon Sollars maintained her undefeated record with a victory at #2 singles, 6-1, 6-4. Sollars also teamed up with her sister, Erin, for a victory at #1 doubles 8-3.

Shannon Sollars is 4-0 in singles action and 4-0 in doubles play this year. All of Sollars doubles wins have been with her sister, Erin.

Erin Sollars also won two matches on the night. In addition to her doubles win, Erin won at #1 singles 7-5, 6-0.

Senior Makayla Davis earned her eighth overall wins on the season. Davis won her singles match at #3 over Hensley Gasaway 6-0, 6-3. Davis teamed with sophomore Molly Kruse to win at #2 doubles 8-6 over Gasaway and Sarah McLaughlin.

Kruse won her singles match at #5, beating Abigail Simpson 6-1, 6-1. At #6 singles, Orange senior Molly Shaw defeated Mia Sodano 6-2, 6-0.

Molly Kruse, in her first year as a full-time starter for Orange, is 4-1 so far in singles. She and Davis have teamed to win all four of their doubles matches.

McLaughlin won at #4 singles for Western Alamance, beating Ellie Wilson 6-1, 6-0.

Wilson and Shaw completed an Orange sweep at doubles, beating Abigail Stimpson and Sodano 6-3.

Orange is now 4-1 overall, 1-0 in the CCC. On Wednesday night, Orange will face Williams in Hillsborough at Orange Tennis Courts. Last year, Orange upset the Bulldogs in the second dual match between the two teams, which paved the way for the Lady Panthers to tie for first place. It led to Orange winning its first tennis conference championship, men’s or women’s, in school history.

Orange Panthers of the Week: Erin and Shannon Sollars

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week are Erin and Shannon Sollars. Erin and Shannon were a major part of the most successful tennis season in Orange High history, men’s or women’s. In 2022, Orange won a share of the Central Carolina Conference championship. It was the first conference championship in the sport of tennis in school history. Erin and Shannon Sollars were Orange’s top doubles team. Together, they won 19 matches, including reaching the finals of the 3A Mideast Regional doubles tournament. Erin and Shannon also teamed to defeat Abigail Brown & Jaden Wilson of Walter Williams 9-7 on September 27, which clinched a 5-4 win over Orange over the Bulldogs. That victory was the only conference loss for Williams this year. Erin and Shannon reached the 3A State Doubles tournament. In the opening round at the Burlington Tennis Center, they defeated Ellie Holtzman and Berkeley Geyer of Hickory 6-0, 6-2 to reach the state quarterfinals. This season, Erin Sollars had 27 overall victories, including 12 singles wins as the top singles player for Orange. Shannon Sollars finished with 29 victories, including 13 singles wins. Though Shannon and Erin were members of the varsity team in 2021, this was the first year they teamed together in doubles. It led to the best Orange tennis team in school history. 

Sollars sisters qualify for State Tennis Championships; Fike eliminates Orange

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.

Davis, Jones helps Orange women’s tennis soar over First Flight in 3A State Playoffs

It was a day that started at 9:20AM. It didn’t end 11:20PM.

In all, the Orange women’s tennis team drove to Kill Devil Hills for a journey that added up to 480 miles roundtrip. Once it was all said and done, the lasting feeling was satisfaction, along with the urgent need for a leg stretch.

Behind four singles wins, the Orange women’s tennis team defeated First Flight 5-2 to win in the opening round of the 3A State Dual Team Playoffs. Orange extended its school-record with 19 wins in a season. For the first time ever, the Lady Panthers tennis team has won matches in the state dual team playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Orange, the co-champions of the Central Carolina Conference, defeated the co-champions of the Northeast Coastal Conference. The Nighthawks (10-2) shared the title with Holmes, a 2A team, with a 7-1 mark.

“It was a good match,” said Orange women’s tennis coach Justin Webb just after he parked the team bus at Orange High Tennis Courts late Wednesday night. “I thought both teams competed extremely hard. It was really interesting conditions.”

Orange advances to the Round of 16, where they will face Fike in Wilson next Tuesday. The Golden Demons, the Quad County Conference champions, defeated Croatan in the opening round on Tuesday.

Last season, Orange knocked off Fike for its first-ever win in the state dual team playoffs.

Webb and his players knew that the fall chill that’s permeated the Triangle this week would extend all the way to the east. When they finally got off the bus following a four-hour ride, they were greeted with wind gusts of 20 miles per hour that were imposing and constantly changing, but expected considering they were along the coast.

“It was very cold and windy,” Webb said. “It’s was pretty difficult conditions, but both teams had to deal with it. First Flight was very scrappy. They didn’t get us much. They were a very tough team and definitely didn’t make it easy on us. I’m sure the wind is something they’re used to, but we’re not.”

Even though Orange is a senior-laden team, the postseason was new for many of them. Of the seven starters who saw action on Wednesday, only two played in last year’s playoff victory over Fike.

“They were excited,” Webb said. “I felt when they were warming up and throughout the whole trip, they were excited about going to the beach. But they had a mission and a goal, and that was to win. I think they believed that if we were going to travel four hours, we’re doing to compete and we’re going to make it worth it.”

Orange never trailed in the match after senior Sydney Rogers extended her singles winning streak with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Chloe Rose at #4 singles. Rogers, the placekicker for the Orange football team, is 15-0 this season.

Senior Isabel Jones, a teammate of Rogers on the Orange women’s soccer team, put the Lady Panthers ahead 2-0 after a three-set victory over Stella Matzgannis, one of two singles matches to go the limit. Jones prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 (10-point tiebreaker). Lady Panthers’ junior Makayla Davis defeated sophomore Olivia Lillington 6-3, 6-3 at #3 singles, giving Orange a 3-0 lead. Davis has 23 wins overall in 2022.

In the final match of singles play, Orange sophomore Shannon Sollars defeated Heather Snyder, one of two senior starters for the Nighthawks, 7-5, 6-2. Sollars, who qualified for the 3A Mideast Regionals in doubles play with her older sister Erin, has won 13 singles matches in 2022.

The only doubles match to be completed clinched the match for Orange. Senior Katelyn Van Mater, who is a three-sport athlete, teamed with Jones to defeat Maura Trivette and Matzgannis 8-6.

Sophomore Annalise Snyder won the #1 singles match for First Flight. In the other three set match, Trivette held off Orange senior Madelyn Horn 6-4, 0-6, 12-10.

The victory added to a growing list of unprecedented accomplishments continues to grow. After winning its first conference championship in tennis earlier this month, Orange will try to reach the state quarterfinals next week.

The only women’s tennis team to ever reach the 3A State Quarterfinals in Hillsborough high history is the 2016 Cedar Ridge Red Wolves.

Orange Panther of the Week: Sydney Rogers

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior Sydney Rogers. It has been a remarkable year for Rogers, who became the first female to score a point for the Orange football team when she kicked an extra point against South Granville on August 19. Earlier that month, Rogers started practice for the Orange women’s tennis team. This fall, the Orange tennis team won a share of the Central Carolina Conference championship. It is the first Orange team to win a conference championship in tennis in the history of the school. Rogers went 13-0 as a singles player this year. Last week, she qualified for the 3A Mideast Regionals in doubles along with Makayla Davis. Last spring, Rogers was a staring midfielder for the Orange women’s soccer team, which had the deepest run in the state playoffs in school history. Rogers scored seven goals in the regular season. She helped Orange defeat Hargett Central in the opening round of the state playoffs. In the second round, Rogers started and won several crucial 50-50 balls as Orange defeated Cape Fear in Fayetteville. Once fall ends, Rogers will prepare for her senior soccer season. She will spend the winter playing indoor soccer in preparation for next spring’s soccer season. 

After CCC Championship, Orange women’s tennis travels to First Flight in 3A State Dual Tournament

There’s a long road to the 3A State Dual Tennis Championship.

But after Wednesday, the road may seem like a piece of cake considering the long trip that awaits the Orange women’s tennis team.

The Lady Panthers, who shared the Central Carolina Conference championship with Walter Williams, will take a four-hour road trip to Kill Devil Hills to face First Flight this afternoon. The pairings for the 32-team 3A State Dual Team Tournament were released on Monday afternoon by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

The Lady Panthers, already with a school-record 18 wins against two losses, received an 11-seed. First Flight (10-1) tied with Holmes High for the 3A/2A Northeastern Coastal Conference championship with a 7-1 league mark.

The winner of Orange/First Flight will face the winner of Fike and Croatan in the second round.

Orange goes into the match on a school-record 14-match winning streak. The Lady Panthers last loss came against Williams on August 31 when they fell 8-1.

The dual tournament continues a busy period for the Lady Panthers. Last Thursday, they competed in the Central Carolina Conference Tournament at the Burlington Tennis Center. The conference tournament has ceased crowning a singles and doubles champion and is primarily an event to qualify players for the Mideast Regionals, which will take place this weekend.

Orange’s top doubles team of Shannon and Erin Sollars received a top-seed for the conference tournament and didn’t play any matches. Instead, they automatically qualified for the regional tournament.

The same applies to Cedar Ridge’s top singles player, Cameron Mayhew, who was the only Red Wolf to qualify for regionals.

The Orange doubles team of Makayla Davis and Sydney Rogers qualified for regionals. Davis and Rogers, seeded fifth, defeated Person’s Zita Tong and Kalei Stephens 6-0, 6-0 in the opening round. With a spot at regionals on the line, Davis and Rogers defeated Cedar Ridge’s Catherine Ballenger and Ella Caltabiano 6-4, 6-4. This season, Davis and Rogers were 9-4 as a team.

The Sollars sisters are 14-3 as a doubles team this season.

In the singles tournament, Cedar Ridge sophomore Adeline Cummings defeated Orange senior Madelyn Horn in the opening round 6-0, 6-1. Walter Williams Jaden Wilson knocked off Cummings in the second round. Cummings, a sophomore, ended her season with eleven singles wins.

Orange senior Isabel Jones opened the singles tournament with a victory over Isabel Baker 6-1, 6-0. In the second round, Eastern Alamance’s Rocio Rosa defeated Jones 6-3, 6-0.

Cedar Ridge’s doubles team of Ballenger and Caltabiano opened with a victory over a team from Eastern Alamance.

Mayhew, the younger sister of Cedar Ridge’s conference champion Josh Mayhew, will go into regionals with momentum. She started as the top singles player for the Red Wolves in each of the dual matches for the second half of the season. She defeated every #1 player from all the conference teams, including Walter Willams’ Abigail Brown, who retired in the second set of their match on October 10.

Williams earned the #1 seed into the 3A State Dual Tournament. They will host Harnett Central in the opening round on Wednesday.

First of their kind; Orange women wins first tennis conference championship in school history

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

When Orange women’s tennis coach Justin Webb held his first practice under a sweltering sun on August 1, eight players showed up. Only one of them was among his top six singles players from the 2021 squad, which was the first team in school history to win a match in the State Dual Playoffs.

Ten weeks later, Webb can say with certainty that eight was enough.

Last Thursday, the Lady Panthers defeated Eastern Alamance 8-1 to persevere a share of the Central Carolina Conference championship. Orange became the first team, men’s or women’s, to win a conference championship in tennis in the 61-year history of the school.

At the very least, Orange and Walter Williams will tie for the conference championship. Orange finished its conference slate 11-1. Williams still has dual matches against Eastern Alamance and Person this week. The Central Carolina Conference singles and doubles tournament begins on Friday at the Burlington Tennis Center.

Orange is now guaranteed a spot in the 3A State Dual Team Tournament, which will start next Wednesday. In terms of wins, it is already the most successful tennis team in school history with an 18-2 overall record following Monday’s win over Riverside, which concluded the regular season.

When Webb is asked whether he anticipated this group being Orange’s first conference championship team in tennis, his answer starts with a chuckle.

“If I’m being honest, it was not something that I predicted,” Webb said. “But I have to give it to the girls. We’ve been about seven or eight players deep throughout most of the season. Our group of girls has stayed committed. They’ve worked hard every day.”

Junior Erin Sollars and her younger sister Shannon have filled the top two singes slots most of the season. The Sollars’ sisters are also Orange’s top doubles team. In Orange’s 5-4 win over Williams on September 27, the Sollars sisters won 9-7 and clinched the dual match. Overall, the Sollars sisters are 14-2 in doubles play.

Shannon Sollars has a 12-5 singles record.

In order for Orange to have a successful season, several first-time starters would need a strong campaign. That’s where the emergence of senior Madelyn Horn has been so valuable. Horn, in her first year as a regular player, compiled a 27-4 overall record. She was 18-2 in singles matches. Horn and doubles partner Grace Allred are 6-0.

Junior Makayla Davis, another first year starter, went 10-7 in singles matches. Along with partner Isabel Jones, she compiled a 10-3 doubles mark.

At a time when multi-sport athletes have become scarce, Webb has a roster full of women who compete year around. Among his top singles players is Sydney Rogers, who frequently spends her early evenings going directly from tennis practice to football practice, where she is the kicker for head football coach DeVante Pettiford. In August, Rogers became the first female to score a point in Orange High football history.

This year, Rogers was 14-0 in singles matches. Including doubles play, she has 21 overall wins.

Two other singles players, Isabel Jones and Katelyn Van Mater, both play soccer. Along with Rogers, Jones and Van Mater helped the Orange women’s soccer team to its deepest run in the state playoffs ever last spring. They reached the third round after beating Harnett Central in Angier, followed by a victory over Cape Fear in Fayetteville.

Van Mater has also been a regular rotation player in basketball for Orange coach B.J. Condron since her freshman year. Last winter, the Orange women’s basketball team was the only hardwood squad from Hillsborough to reach the state playoffs.

“This is a special group of girls,” Webb said. “These girls don’t get tired. One of the things that I’ve never had to do was coach effort. These girls have gone out all season and competed extremely hard. That’s what has made it special. These are all competitors. They’re all winners in other sports, as well as tennis, now. They have this mentality about them that they want to go out there and win every match.”

After Orange defeated Eastern Alamance last week to take a share of the title, Webb called Andy Brown, the former Orange High Athletic Director and men’s basketball coach who also coached men’s and women’s tennis in his final years before retirement.

Webb coached the men’s team while Brown coached the women’s team before Webb replaced him.

“He’s been a good friend and a good mentor,” Webb said. “He started a good foundation at Orange before I arrived. He really started the foundation for this championship.”

Orange Panther of the Week: Madelyn Horn

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior tennis player Madelyn Horn. This season, Horn is in her first season as a starter for the Orange women’s tennis team. She has proven to be a valuable presence as Orange has reached the top of the Central Carolina Conference. During the week of September 11-17, Horn won all three of her singles matches. On September 12, she won her match against Northwood 6-2, 6-2 as the Panthers defeated the Chargers 7-2. Two days later, Horn defeated Ryan Foley of Riverside 8-4. The following day, Horn won two matches against Roxboro Community School. At #5 singles, Horn won 8-4. Later in the day, Horn teamed with junior Grace Allred to win at #3 doubles 8-4. This season, Horn has won 21 matches overall. She has a 13-2 record in singles matches. She is 8-2 as a doubles player. Orange is looking for its first automatic trip to the State Dual Team Playoffs since they joined the 3A ranks in the early 2010s. Orange will continue its season later today at Cedar Ridge. The Lady Panthers have won nine in a row. 

Sollars’ sisters doubles win lead Orange tennis past Williams 5-4, tie for 1st in CCC

Nearly two months ago, the Orange women’s tennis team started practice under the hot August sun with eight players.

They weren’t big on numbers, but there was plenty of experience.

Now, the Lady Panthers are tied for first place in the Central Carolina Conference after beating the defending league champions.

Erin and Shannon Sollars won the final doubles match to clinch a 5-4 win over previously undefeated Walter Williams at Orange Tennis Courts on Monday night in Hillsborough. The victory tied Orange with the Bulldogs for first place in the loss column in the Central Carolina Conference. Orange (13-2, 8-1 in the CCC) has four conference matches remaining.

Williams played without two of its top six players, but still managed to extend the match to the very end.

“There were some close matches that fell our way,” said Orange women’s tennis coach Justin Webb. “Our girls earned it, but it was very close. It could have gone either way easily.”

In the final match of the night, Erin and Shannon Sollars trailed against Abigail Brown and Jaden Wilson 7-6, then won the last three games to prevail 9-7. In dual team matches, doubles are usually the last matches contested and are often played to eight games instead of the full two sets.

Erin and Shannon Sollars are now 10-2 as a tandem this season and have won its last seven matches.

“Shannon and Erin are playing very well for us,” Webb said. “They’re two very good competitors. I don’t have to teach them how to be competitive. And when you play with your sister, it gives you a lot of confidence.”

The two teams split the six singles matches. Erin Sollars won at #1 singles 6-3, 6-3 over Brown. Junior Makayla Davis, who has won 17 matches overall this year, prevailed over Lauren Tuner at #3 singles 6-1, 6-3. Senior Sydney Rogers, the kicker for the Orange football team, won the longest match of the night against Gracie Hartle. Rogers was extended to a 10-point tiebreaker in the third set before winning 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 10-4.

So far this year, Rogers has been a starter for the Orange women’s soccer team that made the deepest playoff run in team history, reaching the 3rd round of the 3A State Playoffs after beating Cape Fear in Fayetteville. In August, she became the first female to score a point in an Orange football game when she kicked an extra point against South Granville. She is 11-0 in singles matches this year.

Orange senior Madelyn Horn, who is in her first year as a starter, won at #6 singles 6-1, 6-0.

“Between Erin, Shannon and Makayla Davis, who has played #3 singles for us, they have more experience,” Webb said. “And then Maddie Horn, she’s probably the most experienced player. She fills a good spot for us at #6 singles that we need for us.”

Williams’ sophomore Jaden Wilson defeated Shannon Sollars 6-3, 6-2. Grace Gabrielli defeated Isabel Jones 6-3, 6-3.

Orange won two of the three doubles matches to take the match. In addition to the Sollars’ sisters, Isabel Jones and Katelyn Van Mater defeated Gabrielli and Mary Bryan 8-1.

Orange has now won nine matches in a row.

“We still have a lot more tough matches to go,” Webb said. “It’s nice to get a win over Williams, but we still have a lot more work to do.”

Orange has never won a conference championship in women’s tennis. Last season, they won a match in the 3A State Dual Team Tournament for the first time ever, beating Fike High School in Wilson. Orange will face crosstown rival Cedar Ridge on Wednesday at Red Wolves Tennis Courts.