New Hanover girls tennis falls to East Chapel Hill in 3A East final

For the second year in a row, the New Hanover and East Chapel Hill girls tennis teams squared off in the 3A East final.

East Chapel Hill again won the battle of the Wildcats, but they were challenged during Wednesday’s 5-1 victory at Althea Gibson Tennis Complex.

Last season, New Hanover (14-1) managed to win only five total games in a 6-0 sweep that lasted less than an hour. The Mideastern Conference champs put up much stiffer challenge this time around and even got a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 2 singles from Frances Coleman.

New Hanover’s Frances Coleman won 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. [Tim Hower/Coastal Preps]

“It was more like a two hour match this year compared to about a 40 minute match last year,” said No. 3 singles player Kate Thompson, the lone senior in New Hanover’s singles lineup. “That’s a huge improvement and I’m very proud of the way we played.”

The most competitive match of the day came at No. 4, where Ingrid Mast outlasted Mary Archer Boyd 7-6(4), 7-5 in a battle of attrition.

New Hanover freshman Sara Frances Butler was downed 6-2, 6-4 at No. 5 and Ann McBryde Barker lost 6-4, 6-1 at No. 6.

East Chapel Hill also won 6-0, 6-4 at No. 1 and 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3. They will take on Charlotte Catholic in the state championship match on Saturday.

Despite the loss, New Hanover players and coaches walked away from the match with a lot of pride. It was another tremendous season that featured the Mideastern Conference title, six regional qualifiers and five state qualifiers.

Thompson may be graduating, but she is taking a lot of great memories with her.

“I’ll definitely remember our belt, which goes to the player of the match, the tight matches and lots of laughs,” she said.