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Wakefield tennis aces Wake Forest

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WAKE FOREST — Wakefield’s girls tennis team put on a good show at Wake Forest by beating the Cougars 7-2 in the blistering heat Tuesday afternoon.

The Lady Wolverines took the first four singles matches. Wakefield only needed to win one doubles match to take the overall victory and they ended up sweeping Wake Forest by beating them in all three contests.

“I’m encouraged with the passion and energy the girls have,” Wakefield head coach Ken Stewart said. “It’s just going to get better from here on out.”

At the No. 1 singles spot, Wakefield’s Bliss Dowden easily handled Wake Forest’s Katie Dickerson. The junior took down her opponent 6-1, 6-1.

In the No. 2 match, Wakefield freshman Emma Hulicki defeated Julia Foley 6-1, 6-0. At No. 3, Wakefield sophomore Lauren Carter beat Wake Forest’s Sophie Padelecki 6-1, 6-3. Carter is the only player on the team who hasn’t lost a match as a starter so far this year. Then in the No. 4 match, Wakefield freshman Mia Taylor took down Wake Forest senior Emma Dean 6-2, 6-3.

“Bliss Dowden has been great at No. 1 for us,” Stewart said. “She’s our leader. She plays with a lot of grace. She’s the total athlete. Emma Hulicki and Mia Taylor are our two freshman starters who have exceeded expectations. Lauren Carter has been spectacular. It’s been fun watching her.”

In doubles play, Dowden and Taylor defeated Dean and Dickerson 8-2 at the No. 1 match. Hulicki and Carter teamed up to take down Foley and Padelecki with a clean sweep of 8-0 in the No. 2 match. Finally, Wakefield’s pair of seniors, Julia Scott and Megan Choe, beat Wake Forest’s Kensley Hamm and Millie Pulliam in a tight 9-8 contest.

With the loss, Wake Forest dropped to 3-2 overall. The Cougars won their NAC 6 conference opener against Corinth Holders 6-3 on Sept. 3. Wake Forest head coach Brian Lesh said the loss against Wakefield showed that the girls need to work on showing endurance through each point.

“We have to work on volleys, volleys and more volleys,” Lesh said. “We’ve been emphasizing that because we need to work on it. We’re slowly developing movement from the baseline to attacking the net. Hopefully they apply it in future matches.”

With the win, Wakefield improved to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in NAC 6 conference play. The Wolverines defeated Heritage 7-2 in their conference opener Sept. 3. Wakefield opened the season with a 4-0 loss to Green Hope, but since then, it appears as if the Wolverines have found their groove on the court.

In his first year back at coaching girls tennis since 2014, Stewart said he’s getting used to the group of girls he has now and they are adapting to his style.

“It’s a different culture here in my first year back as head coach,” Stewart said. “I’m adjusting to them and they’re adjusting to me. We’re working on being more fierce on the court. We’re going to be great. The girls have been a joy this year. My senior captains, Julia Scott, Haley Nehilla, Katie Kim, Megan Choe and Paola Ortiz have all been great helping me out in my first year coaching girls tennis in a while.”

Wakefield will play Rolesville at home Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. Wake Forest will also take on the Lady Rams the day before at Rolesville on Monday at 3:30 p.m.