There was little doubt from anybody that Nash Central is among the top 16 girls’ tennis teams in 3-A.
When the time came, however, the Bulldogs still had to prove themselves worthy, and Nash Central had little issue with that.
The Bulldogs trounced Chapel Hill, 6-0, in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs on Tuesday at Nash Central High School and will advance to the second round to play the winner of Jacksonville and Southern Lee.
“I’ve said it before, but I have six girls that could be the No. 1 or No. 2 player at almost any other school,” Nash Central coach Susan McCarthy said. “I’m really lucky to have them all at the same time.”
Nash Central (16-0) remained undefeated by way of its depth. The Bulldogs were too talented through their top six for Chapel Hill (11-7), which made playing doubles unnecessary.
“They were just too deep,” Chapel Hill coach Neil Alderman said. “They’re real solid. They were a little bit better in all the spots.
“ ... They’re very mentally tough, very well coached. They can go a long way. They have a good chance to win it.”
Randi Price set the tone at No. 1 singles for the third-ranked Bulldogs, cruising, 6-4, 6-1, past Danielle Cohen, who normally plays fairly even with Price.
Lizzie Eakin and Caley Bass won easily at No. 4 and 5 singles, losing a combined three games between them.
Nash Central was able to avoid doubles competition against No. 7 Chapel Hill because of two tie-break victories.
No. 2 singles player Kaley Price, after losing the first set, rallied to win the second set, then controlled the tiebreak to guarantee Nash Central a victory.
Meredith Davis preserved the shutout by holding off Robin Tanz at No. 6 singles, winning the tiebreak, 10-7.
“I wasn’t hitting my corner shots as well as I wanted, and her power was getting to me a little bit,” Davis said. “I had to get the match to slow down, and play like I wanted to, not like she wanted to. When I did, that’s when I was able to win.”
The pod system did neither side any favors by pitting two top-seven teams against each other in the first round, though the Bulldogs look to have earned a break with a victory.
Nash Central already has beaten the highest-ranked team it could see until the Regional Finals.
The Bulldogs aren’t assuming anything at this point of the season, but it was encouraging for the squad that they thoroughly controlled another highly-ranked team.
“It was almost an eye-opener,” Davis said. “We knew it would be tough, but it was good to watch us come out on top. We know we’ll have to beat more good teams. This is only the beginning.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com