Appearing in its second straight — and second-ever for the program overall — showing on a stage serving as the equivalent of the sport’s statewide superior court, Pine Lake Prep’s girls tennis team supplied all the evidence required to establish it as this fall season’s N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 1A class dual-team champion.
The Pride supported its case so strongly that it would have made the Erle Stanley Gardner-created fictional courtroom dominant figure Perry Mason proud.
Competing on the Burlington Tennis Center courts over the past weekend, Pine Lake — representing its PAC-7 Conference as that crowd’s regular-season queen — closed in on completing its coveted quest during the singles segment of scheduled play. The Pride secured the verdict outright during a dominating doubles display to defeat previously undefeated Franklin Academy, 7-2.
With the win coming in one of the site’s three duels featuring teams with matching unblemished standards entering the state’s girls tennis season finales, the Pride surfaced with their own undeterred slate safely intact. Pine Lake pocketed the outcome to close it its program’s groundbreaking performance with a spotless, 15-0 overall record.
Getting there wound up being the most difficult task of any of PLP’s previous postseason efforts. For the first and only time during the course of all the total number of five rounds needed to snare the state’s net title, matters wound up being extended into the doubles portion of play.
For the eventual team titlists, netting wins during the course of their respective singles sessions included, in order of team rank, Andersen Schubert, Haley Frye, Sadie Ann Schubert and Sophia Taffet. Of that bunch, Sadie Schubert cruised through her two sets without so much as being dealt a single game defeat, while the twosome of Andersen Schubert — recently also crowned as the NCHSAA’s 1A-class individual singles champion — and teammate Taffet dropped their only games in their first of two sets.
In the case of Frye, the lone victorious senior-class member of the team, she battled her way back from a first-set loss to win the second and then prevailed in a points-based tiebreaker to earn Pine Lake its fourth team point during singles play alone.
Entering doubles play needing only one more triumph in pro-set play to secure the decision, it was officially logged in thanks to the twosome of teammates Taffet and Kaley Patel even though the duos made up of Andersen Schubert and partner Frye, as well as Sadie Schubert and court cohort Lexie Mayer were each well in control of their respective matches as well.
As is the case in all high school girls tennis matches, the team that secures five points first is declared the winner
Although neither of the last two doubles duels was needed to be completed in order for Pine Lake to capture the win, they were both awarded in the Pride’s favor in order to account for the final winning score.
More than just the team sat in the center court’s spotlight.
The Pride’s Frye was selected to receive the 1A class match’s NCHSAA Most Valuable Player Award that is traditionally presented to a standout member of the winning team. In addition, PLP’s Salem Matheson, the only other senior-class member of this season’s starting line-up, was recognized as the West Region-winning entry’s recipient of one of the two Sportsmanship Awards given to a singled-out player on each of the two state finalists.
For Pine Lake, the journey to this year’s state championship comes on the heels of the previous season’s statewide runner-up finish to account for first-ever showing of back-to-back title appearances in program history.
There was nothing at all routine about this year’s title trek as well. Each of the final four victories over as many different postseason opponents came against teams that all entered that particular phase of play with previously undefeated records. Counting the court conquest over Wake Forest-based Franklin Academy, PLP’s last four favorable outcomes came at the expense of foes owning a combined 65-0 record at the time of the respective meetings.
The championship crown allows this fall’s Pine Lake girls tennis team to join the school’s girls swimming program as the only ones to account for state title accomplishments in the all-time history of the school’s entire athletic program.