10/11/11 — Carolina 1A tennis tournament

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Carolina 1A tennis tournament

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 11, 2011 1:48 PM

North Duplin senior Lea Taylor did her job.

So did teammates Selena Quintanilla and Casey Thornton.

Taylor, the No. 1 seed, emerged the singles champion during the season-ending Carolina 1-A Conference girls' tennis tournament late Monday evening at Herman Park. Quintanilla-Thornton claimed the doubles crown and helped the Rebels secure the overall team tournament title, 9-7 over regular-season champion Spring Creek.

It was the Rebels' first-ever tournament crown in program history. Taylor and Quintanilla-Thornton automatically qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A east regionals, which begin Oct. 21 at Herman Park.

"I never really considered us being in the tournament (title) hunt," said North Duplin head coach Kirk Pullen. "My doubles team was a real surprise to me. They weren't even seeded and I didn't have them play together as a team (during the season).

"It worked out unbelievably well."

No kidding.

Quintanilla-Thornton launched their surprising day-long run with a quarterfinal-round, three-set triumph over Rosewood's Brook Bell-Elise McSwain. They upset Spring Creek's top-seeded tandem of Katlyn Casey-Jordan Cook in the semifinals and took out Ayden-Grifton's duo of Leah Kent-Sadie Crockett in the finals.

Kent-Crockett and Casey-Cook each clinched a regional bid.

Taylor defeated Ayden-Grifton's Rebecca Solomon in the quarterfinals and eliminated Spring Creek's Heather Frey in the semifinals. Taylor overcame first- and second-set deficits to turn back the Gators' Emily Daniel, the No. 2 seed, in the championship match.

Taylor remained unbeaten in 10 outings this season.

"Lea showed a lot of mental toughness," said Pullen.

Daniel and Frey each earned a regional berth.

Goldsboro got victories from singles standout Jessica Calvert and the doubles of Casey Hoggard-Randa Boykin. Hoggard-Boykin fell to Casey-Cook in the third-place match, while Calvert fell to Daniel in the semifinals.

Spring Creek (9-1 overall) and Rosewood (5-3) return to action in the NCHSAA dual-team playoffs, which begin Oct. 18. The Eagles travel to Raleigh Charter in opening-round play next Tuesday. The Gators drew an first-round bye and start their state championship quest at home Oct. 25.