Nighthawks knock out Ledford

Ledford's Elizabeth Stroup hits a backhand return against Northern Guilford's Carson Kilpatrick during their second-round 3-A state tennis playoff match Tuesday afternoon at Ledford. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

WALLBURG | Even trailing 4-2 going into doubles, ever optimistic Ledford tennis coach Randy Grimes thought his Panthers had a chance to rally back to defeat Northern Guilford in the second round of the state 3-A playoffs.

But a necessary sweep in doubles never materialized as Ledford fell 6-3 to bring its splendid season to an end with a 19-2 overall record.

“We knew they were a good team,” said Grimes. “We just needed to outlast them. It was a battle from the start. It doesn’t get any better.”

The Panthers came up with just two victories in singles when Taylor Freeman defeated Colleen Link 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1, and Sarah Richardson came away with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 victory over Cindy Kim at No. 5.

Perhaps the toughest singles match of the night was at No. 3 singles where Ledford’s Erin Crotts dropped a heartbreaking 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 decision to Annie Jakubek in a marathon match that lasted 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, Ledford’s Elizabeth Stroup fell 6-3, 6-4 to Carron Kilpatrick at No. 2 singles, while Emma Caroline Russell fell 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to Kelly Wardman at No. 4 singles and Ledford’s Katie Wilson lost 6-1, 6-2 to Channing Herring at No. 6.

Grimes knew his team had a tough road in doubles.

“We always feel good heading into doubles,” said Grimes. “We swept Union Pines two weeks ago and they’re one of the best teams in the state.

“So, yeah, I felt great going into doubles. We always feel like we have a chance, especially going into doubles.

“We knew we were going to have a battle because they (Northern) are steady,” said Grimes. “And they’d been steady all night.”

Going with 10-game pro-sets in doubles, Ledford’s Freeman-Stroup defeated Link-Kilpatrick 10-5.

But Crotts-Russell dropped a 10-4 contest to Jakubek-Wardman, and Richardson-Wilson fell 10-7 to Kim-Herring.

Grimes acknowledged that if his team could have gone into doubles at 3-3 instead of trailing 4-2, it might have changed the dynamics of the match.

“If we could have gone in at 3-3, it might have been a little bit different,” said Grimes. “But it is what it is.

“The best thing that happened tonight on these courts were that the girls (on both teams) all bonded tonight. They all made friends. This was the epitome of an honest, first-class tennis match that does not get any better than this.”

The entire tennis match took nearly four hours to play.