No surprise. It will be defending champion Porter-Gaud (11-1-1) against 2011 finalist Hilton Head Prep (12-0-1) in today’s 10 a.m. SCISA Class AAA state girls tennis championship match at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center.
While Porter-Gaud rolled into its fourth consecutive state final with a 6-0 win over Pinewood Prep, Hilton Head Prep easily turned back Ashley Hall, 5-1, in Friday’s all-Region III state semifinals.
The Cyclones lived up to their region runner-up finish as senior Annie Hay rallied to defeat Pinewood Prep senior Mollie Polk, 4-6, 7-6, 1-0, at No. 1 singles, and Hay’s teammates were too strong for the rest of the Panthers (14-6).
Sophomore Grace Robards, eighth-grader Ann Martin Skelly, freshman Lexi Steichen and juniors Carlyle Williams and Madison McNeil all won in straight sets in the Nos. 2-6 singles matches, yielding no more than five games in any one match.
But Porter-Gaud coach Brian Burke was relieved when it was over, although he realizes what the Cyclones will be up against today in a match against the academy-trained girls from Hilton Head Prep.
“The scores were not indicative of the toughness of the matches today,” he said. “We played pretty well (against Pinewood Prep). But Hilton Head Prep is really tough. It looks like a tall task ahead for us.
“If we can break even in singles and go to doubles, I like our chances,” Burke said.
Pinewood Prep coach Bryant McKee was pleased with his team’s play, especially Polk and Meagan Evans in the top two positions.
SINGLES: Annie Hay (PG) def. Mollie Polk, 4-6, 7-6, 1-0; Grace Robards (PG) def. Meagan Evans, 6-1, 6-4; Ann Martin Skelly (PG) def. Shauna Fletcher, 6-1, 6-3; Lexi Steichen (PG) def. Hayleigh Dodge, 6-1, 6-3; Carlyle Williams (PG) def. Haley Foster, 6-2, 6-0; Madison McNeil (PG) def. Maya Friederich, 6-2, 6-0.
After suffering a pair of close losses in the regular season to the 2011 state runners-up, Ashley Hall was dominated in the bottom four singles positions as Hilton Head Prep coach Job de Boer inserted newcomer Kelly Mengel into the lineup at No. 2 and pushed his former Nos. 2-5 players down to Nos. 3-6.
Mengel, who arrived at Hilton Head Prep this year after moving from Pittsburgh, made a vast difference. Ashley Hall netted a total of only nine games off of the Dolphins (12-0-1) in the bottom four positions.
“Hilton Head was too tough for us today,” said Ashley Hall coach Mary Gastley, whose teams had won three straight state titles before 2011.
Even Lowcountry player of the year Narni Summerall had a difficult time at No. 1 against Hilton Head Prep’s Allie Burak before pulling out a 5-7, 6-0, 1-0 win in a third-set match tiebreaker, 10-7, for the Panthers’ only win. It was the last high school match for Summerall, who has only three singles losses in four years for the Panthers.
SINGLES: Narni Summerall (AH) def. Allie Burak, 5-7, 6-0, 1-0; Kelly Mengel (HHP) def. Rossi Anastopoulo, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0; Shannon O’Brien (HHP) def. Morgan Schweers, 6-1, 6-1; Ellie Czura (HHP) def. Skat Bailey, 6-1, 6-0; Tyler Childress (HHP) def. Tiffany Dye, 6-1, 6-0; Katie Rankin (HHP) def. Gyles Laney, 6-2, 6-3.