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by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
NEWPORT — Franklin Academy’s tennis advanced to the Regional round of the 1A North Carolina state playoffs Monday with a 5-1 victory against East Carteret High School.
The Patriots played against conference rival Raleigh Charter yesterday (Wednesday); however results were not available at press time. The winner of that match will travel to Burlington Saturday to compete in the state championship dual team match.
Against East Carteret High School, 11-2, Franklin Academy won five singles matches.
Krysten Lee, playing No. 3 singles, shut her opponent out 6-0, 6-0 and was the first to finish her match.
The Patriots No. 2 singles player, Kinsey Ness, was a 6-1, 6-0 winner and teammate Brianna Kusilek, at No. 4 singles, won 6-0, 6-1.
At No. 6 singles, Taylor Henrie was a 6-3, 6-1 winner, which gave Franklin Academy a 4-0 lead.
The Patriots needed just one more win to capture the match.
Erin Connell, at No. 5 singles, won her first set 6-2 against undefeated Maggie Golden, but lost the second at 4-6.
“Neither one of them were about to give up,” said Franklin Academy coach Gregg Duffy.
In the third set tie-breaker, Connell pulled ahead with her solid and consistent game and won 10-5.
“Maggie was upset at her first loss and had to be consoled by her teammates and parents, but many other players have fallen to Erin in similarly frustrating circumstances,” Duffy said.
The win gave the Patriots the required five sets for a victory even though Casey Langer was still playing at one singles.
“Unfortunately, she could not pull it off in a third set-tie breaker,” Duffy said.
Langer also competed in the Women’s Individual 1A state championship Oct. 25 in Cary but her quest came up short, losing in the first round 6-0, 6-0 to eventual champion Courtney Mudge of Community of Davidson School.
“Courtney is the best tennis player I have seen in 1A,” Duffy said. “She hit the ball very hard with incredible control and placement.”
“She had all the shots and Casey really had no chance,” he added.
All of the girls from the East, in both singles and doubles lost in the first round.