Porter-Gaud wasted little time on Friday advancing to its fifth straight SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state championship match as the Cyclones (10-3) rolled past Hilton Head Christian, 5-1, at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center.
For the third consecutive year, the Cyclones’ opponent in the title match will be fellow Region III foe Hilton Head Prep (13-0), the defending champion which extended its unbeaten string to 27 straight matches with a 6-0 romp past Hammond School in the other semifinal. The final is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday in Sumter.
Freshman left-hander Ann Martin Skelly led the Cyclones with a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 1 singles over Catherine Campbell, a replacement for Hilton Head Christian’s regular No. 1 player Madison Dillon, who was sidelined by a foot injury.
Junior Grace Robards and senior Carlyle Williams scored easy wins at Nos. 2 and 3, but sophomore Lexi Steichen suffered a loss at No. 4.
Looking ahead to a third meeting with Hilton Head Prep this season (Prep easily won the first two), first-year Porter-Gaud head coach Charlotte Hartsock said, “Anything can happen. We’re going to get a good meal, a good rest and we’re going to play good tennis.”
Skelly faces a major challenge to her unbeaten 5-0 SCISA Finals Weekend record in Hilton Head Prep senior Mariana Gould, the 2012 Junior Family Circle Cup runner-up who yielded just three games to Skelly in two regular season meetings.
“She’s definitely tough . . . a very experienced player,” Skelly said about Gould, who already has committed to the University of Georgia’s highly rated program.
“We have to play our best tennis to win, but they are beatable.”
PORTER-GAUD 5, HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN 1
Singles: Ann Martin Skelly (P-G) def. Catherine Campbell, 6-1, 6-0; Grace Robards (P-G) def. Monica Bundy, 6-0, 6-3; Carlyle Williams (P-G) def. Kate Bennett, 6-3, 6-1; Meredith Inglis (HHC) def. Lexi Steichen, 6-1, 6-3; Madison McNeill (P-G) def. Grace Berrigan, 6-2, 6-1; Rebecca Kahn (P-G) def. Maddy Bauer, 6-3, 6-1.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.