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Gryphons tennis topples Knights, stays undefeated

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Northern Nash’s Chloe Harrington makes contact with the ball on Tuesday during her match against Rocky Mount High's Caroline Broderick at Northern Nash High School.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A week removed from knocking off Wilson Fike in an early showdown between two top girls’ tennis programs in the Big East Conference, Rocky Mount High went to work on another upstart program in Northern Nash.

The Gryphons came away with a 6-1 win, defeating the host Knights on Tuesday. The teams didn’t play two potential doubles matches as the match was already decided after singles.

Carson Browder won at No. 2 singles for RMH (7-0, 4-0 Big East), along with M.K. Broderick (No. 3 singles), Caroline Land (No. 4), Madeline Dalsimer (No. 5) and Marta Lopez (No. 6).

It was another dominant effort for a Gryphons team that looks to have all the pieces in place to be the team to beat in the Big East after finishing second a season ago.

“We’re playing really well right now,” Gryphons top singles player Caroline Broderick said. “It was a big win to beat Fike. They’re pretty much good every year. Then we came here and Northern is another good team.

“We’ve had some tough matches, but they’re helpful when conference tournament and states come around because by then you’re used to those long, tough matches and you’re in better position to handle them.”

The Big East has all the makings of a carnage-filled slate of league matches due to the amount of talented teams that populate the conference. Northern Nash’s emergence as one of those teams only strengthens the already stout conference.

Northern Nash entered the match with just one loss to traditional power Wilson Fike while the Gryphons came in undefeated. While the logical next step for RMH was to make this jump with a talented roster largely returning, the Knights are doing so with a fresh gust of wind in their sails.

Northern Nash (6-2, 3-2) already has more overall and conference wins than last season, and its young roster is proving they belong in a tough league, highlighted by a five-match winning streak to open the season.

“We’re young and we have some adjustments to make,” Knights coach Elaina Ingram said. “We have four freshmen, five sophomores, one junior and one senior. We’re going to make some headway.”

Having just two upperclassmen hasn’t slowed the Knights. Top singles player and freshman Chloe Harrington hung on to defeat the Gryphons’ No. 1 in Caroline Broderick, 6-3, 6-7 (7-4). The match needed a third-set tiebreaker to settle, and last nearly 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Harrington, who plays on a U.S. Tennis Association circuit two weekends each month, said she was used to playing extended, grueling matches. So this one was just another in a long list of tiring contests.

“When I go to the YMCA and run, my mom tells me that having good conditioning can help me out here on the tennis court,” Harrington said. “So that’s how I can compete in these long matches.”

Harrington’s biggest improvement over the years of playing has been her forehand stroke. Unlike many players, Harrington’s best stroke had been her backhand. She would position herself around the ball to hit returns with a backhand stroke.

But added focus and training helped Harrington develop a strong forehand, which helped her pull away on Tuesday in the tiebreaker.

“One thing that I improved the most was my strokes, especially my forehand,” said Harrington, who is 6-1 on the season in singles matches. “Instead of doing a backhand, I run around and do the forehand. That’s my strongest thing now.”

Up next

Rocky Mount High at Franklinton, 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Northern Nash at Wilson Hunt, 3:30 p.m. Thursday

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