Garner girls’ tennis sets school record with win over Knightdale

kboilard@newsobserver.comOctober 1, 2013 

— The Garner girls’ tennis team finally got over a hump that’s taken four years to fully climb.

The Trojans’ 9-0 sweep of Knightdale (3-9 Greater Neuse River 4A) on Wednesday was their 13th victory of the season, a new school record.

“We’ve finished 12-5 the least three years,” Garner head coach Joe Walls said after the match. “We finally broke 13 wins this year, which is the most in school history.”

For the Trojans (13-3, 10-2), experience was key to setting a new bar.

“This has been a really good team,” Walls said. “We have nine seniors on this team. It’s a really great group.”

Two of those nine seniors, twins Hannah and Sarah Hamlin, set the tone for Garner’s win.

In the premier singles matchup, Hannah Hamlin took on Knightdale’s Rosalyn Hatlen and claimed a decisive 6-1, 6-1 victory. Hamlin was able to draw a bead on her opponent early in the match.

“(Hatlen) was good competition,” Hamlin said. “She had really consistent shots. I knew I had to run her out so I could win.”

Sarah Hamlin delivered an equally dominant performance on court No. 2, topping Knightdale’s Shelly Guo in two quick sets, 6-2, 6-0.

“The match was very smooth,” Sarah Hamlin said. “(Guo) knew where to place the ball to make me run, but I just played my hardest and won.”

None of the Knights’ players took more than four games from the Trojans.

Garner No. 3 Nicole Root nearly went perfect in a 6-0, 6-1 win over Lechonda Council, and Elizabeth Pittman had similar success in a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Lexxus Johnson at No. 4.

Alyssa Clark shut out Kayla Larkins in two sets on court No. 5 and Bailey Rogue defeated Tashaia Dunn 6-0, 6-4 in the sixth singles match.

Walls was impressed to see his squad handle the Knights so thoroughly from top to bottom.

“It’s good to see the girls stay focused, play hard, put their shots together and then win all their matches,” Walls said. “I’m really proud of this group. This has been a very solid group for four years.”

Knights coach Martin Faison saw progress in his team’s performance on Wednesday afternoon, but admitted it’s tough to stand toe-to-toe with Garner.

“It’s always hard to play one of the top teams in the conference,” Faison said after the match. “(Garner) played very well.”

The Trojans didn’t let off the gas in the doubles matches despite clinching the contest in the singles round.

The Hamlin twins teamed up to form Garner’s No. 1 pairing and eased past Knightdale’s Hatlen-Guo combination, 8-2.

“It’s really tough because me and Sarah tend to fight a lot,” Hannah Hamlin said of sharing a court with her sister. “But when we win points, we’re happy. That’s when we’re actually able to work things out and stick to it.”

Garner shut out Knightdale in the other two doubles matches. Clark and Pittman united to take down Council and Johnson, while Root and Manoisa Ebri got the best of Larkins and Brienna Salmon.

Boilard: 919-829-4816

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