WHEELERSBURG — It’s early, but already the Wheelersburg High School girls tennis team is beating the heat —and topping its competition as a new season gets underway.
That’s because the Lady Pirates, the six-time defending Southern Ohio Conference champions, served up a 5-0 sweep of the visiting Minford Falcons on Thursday — as the match marked Wheelersburg’s season and SOC opener.
For the Falcons, it was their league opener as well —as they swept Portsmouth 5-0 in their season opener a week ago.
Despite the graduation loss of four-time state tournament qualifier Maddie Gill, the Lady Pirates did not miss a beat in the heat against Minford — winning all five matches in straight sets, as three other Lady Pirates besides Gill return which were Division II district qualifiers.
In fact, the first doubles tandem of senior Maegan Jolly and junior Emily Janney placed in the top four at the district —and pitched a 6-0 and 6-0 shutout on Thursday of Minford’s Kaylee Kinney and Zoe Warren.
At second doubles, the Lady Pirates nearly made it a second shutout — as Emma Brinkman and Hailee Corona swept Minford’s Kailey Shaffer and Jadan Book by a 6-3 and 6-0 count.
Wheelersburg won all three singles matches as well, although the Lady Falcons fared better in individual sets at singles one and three.
Maria Nolan of Wheelersburg defeated Minford junior Addy Akers 6-2 and 7-6 (8-6) at first singles, as Isabella Hamilton got by Brooklyn Jarrell with a 7-5 and 6-3 win.
The Nolan and Akers contest lasted three hours, with temperatures hitting the mid-90s and the heat index at over 100.
Akers and Hamilton, incidentally, were part of district-qualifying doubles squads last season — as Akers teamed with the graduated Kennedy Prater and Hamilton alongside the graduated Payton Walker.
At second singles, Serena Kataria swept Minford’s Miranda Johnson by a 6-0 and 6-1 mark.
Both teams now welcome non-league Athens for their next matches —with Wheelersburg hosting the Bulldogs on Saturday at 9 a.m. before the Falcons face them on Monday.
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