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Both teams still have a chance at the big prize of the regional championship.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Katherine Smith must be wondering why she didn't choose a different sport to coach.
One like basketball or volleyball where the outcome usually is decided in 90 minutes or less.
Instead, Smith picked tennis.
Friday, the Patrick Henry coach spent five hours at River's Edge including a one-hour rain delay before the Patriots notched a 5-2 victory over Franklin County to win the Northwest Region girls championship.
"These long matches are very taxing," Smith said. "I sometimes have to just start walking and take laps and hope that when I come back around it's good news."
It might take Smith longer to walk the halls at Patrick Henry and find another regional championship trophy.
"I don't know that there's ever been one, to be honest," she said. "I don't know that there is one in the trophy case."
Both teams still have a shot at the big trophy.
Patrick Henry (16-2) will play the Northern Region runner-up in a Group AAA quarterfinal May 28 at River's Edge. Franklin County (14-5) will play at the Northern Region champion the same day.
Franklin County (14-5) is making its second straight state tournament appearance after reaching the semifinals last year. Three of the Eagles' losses this year have been to Patrick Henry, including one in a playoff for the Western Valley District title.
Franklin County will return its top six intact in 2014.
"They've got a good club and it's obvious they're a little bit better than us this year," Franklin County coach Mike Hagan said. "But we've been getting better all year long, constantly improving.
"We're looking forward to next year, but we're not done this year."
The Eagles clawed their way back into the match after PH grabbed a 4-2 lead following singles play.
PH's Grace Mason and Michaela Magnuson appeared poised to luck up the match at No. 3 doubles before Franklin County's Taylor Ranson and Emma Fenton won the second set.
That left matters to Mason Wheeler and Allie Greene at No. 1 doubles.
Leanna Carter and Nora Ferguson defeated Wheeler and Greene in the WVD final, but this time the PH pair posted a 6-4, 6-2 victory to end the match.
Carter dictated play in the WVD final with a superior forehand. Friday, Wheeler and Greene were able to end points at the net with putaway volleys.
"That was our game plan," Wheeler said. "The one thing that was missing was our net play the last time. That's the reason we got beat. Both girls have excellent shots. You have to make sure you move them enough so they don't get too good a shot on you."
Wheeler and Greene each won three-set singles matches that were interrupted by rain.
Greene edged Kayla Anderson 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 at No. 3 singles while Wheeler outlasted Ferguson 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the No. 2 singles match.
When Franklin County defeated the Patriots 6-3 during the regular season, Anderson and Ferguson won at those respective positions.
Ciara Mulcahy, whose uncles Kevin and Martin Skelly were PH tennis stars, topped Carter 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. Emily Hamilton of PH defeated Fenton 6-1, 6-0 at No. 6.
Franklin County's singles wins were Emily Philpott's 7-5, 6-4 decision over Sabel Fink at No. 4, and Ranson's 6-2, 6-1 victory over Mason at No. 5.
Both teams performed at high level Friday.
"It's all good and fun," Wheeler said. "We're going to make each other improve as teams. It's good competition and it helps."
Even though Franklin County has a long trip in 10 days, the Eagles have come a long way with their program.
"Last year was pretty great," Carter said. "The chance to go back again is pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to getting a state shirt."
Patrick Henry 5, Franklin County 2
Ciara Mulcahy (PH) d. Leanna Carter, 6-1, 6-1; Mason Wheeler (PH) d. Nora Ferguson, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4; Allie Greene (PH) d. Kayla Anderson, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4; Emily Philpott (FC) d. Sabel Fink, 7-5, 6-4; Taylor Ranson (FC) d. Grace Mason, 6-2, 6-1; Emily Hamilton (PH) d. Emma Fenton, 6-1, 6-0.
Wheeler and Greene (PH) d. Carter and Ferguson, 6-4, 6-2; Anderson and Philpott (FC) led Mulcahy and Fink, 7-5, 1-5, susp.; Ranson and Fenton (FC) led Mason and Michaela Magnuson, 4-6, 7-5, 3-2, susp.
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