Four seasons, four Western Highlands Conference tournament championships – Julia Griffin certainly has left her mark on Polk County’s girls tennis program.
Griffin ended her WHC career on Tuesday just as she began, claiming her second WHC singles title with a 9-7 victory over Owen’s Anna Sobol on Polk County’s courts.
Two other Wolverine seniors took home the day’s other prize. Sara Muse and Kristen Hall teamed to win the WHC doubles crown, defeating Owen’s Amara Hollifield and Bailey Mundy in the final.
All three Polk County players qualified for the 1A West Regional, set for June 18 in Elkin. The top four singles players and doubles teams in regional competition will advance to the 1A state tourney, set for June 25-26 at Cary Tennis Park.
In the third match this season between the two players, Sobol pushed Griffin to the limit, but the day still ended with Griffin as the victor, her singles title joining the one she won as a freshman and the two doubles titles she won in the years between.
Griffin trailed 2-1 in Tuesday’s final, but won four straight games to grab a 5-2 lead. Sobol, the 2019 WHC champion, held serve to make it 5-3, but Griffin responded by also holding serve, then broke Sobol to take a 7-3 advantage, fighting off game point, then hitting a perfect drop shot before a long Sobol forehand closed the game.
But Sobol began to both counter Griffin’s repeated lobs and also find her range with aggressive ground strokes to the corners of the court. She won three straight games to make it 7-6, then evened the match by holding serve and battling through two deuces to claim the 14th game of the final.
Griffin raced to a 40-0 lead in the pivotal 15th game, only to see Sobol fight back and reach game point. Griffin responded with two straight points, then hit a perfect forehand drop shot to close the game and take an 8-7 lead.
A crisp forehand passing shot and high-bouncing lob helped give Griffin two match points. Sobol fought off one before Griffin claimed championship point.
The doubles final offered less drama. Muse and Hall won three straight games early in the match to race to a 4-1 advantage before Hollifield and Mundy turned a service break and service hold into a 4-3 Polk lead.
But that would be it for the Owen duo. Serving well and using their athleticism at the net, Muse and Hall held serve to make it 5-3, broke Owen for a 6-3 lead and then repeated the pattern to close the match.
Hall and Muse became the fourth straight Polk County duo to win the WHC doubles title, with Griffin’s win giving Polk County four of the last five WHC singles champions.
WESTERN HIGHLANDS CONFERENCE
GIRLS TENNIS TOURNAMENT
Mara Ward (Avery) d. Emily Atkins (A) 8-3; Sophia Anglin (Mountain Heritage) d. Baleigh Bryant (MH) 8-4
Julia Griffin (Polk County) d. Mara Ward 8-0; Lisa Constable (Owen) d. Gracie Tipton (MH) 8-3; Anna Sobol (O) d. Sophia Anglin 8-0; Cameron Ward (PC) d. Sydney Edwards (MH) 7-5, retired
Julia Griffin (PC) d. Lisa Constable (O) 8-0; Anna Sobol (O) d. Cameron Ward (PC) 8-0
Julia Griffin (PC) d. Anna Sobol (O) 9-7
Emma Kitchin-Lily Markland (A) d. Ally Riddle-Ursula Kelley (MH) 6-1; Amara Hollifield-Bailey Mundy (O) d. Mikayla Reep-Abi Crowe (A) 6-0; Ella Waldman-Belen Akers (PC) d. Frances Holloday-Young (O) 7-6 (7-2)
Sara Muse-Kristen Hall (PC) d. Emma Kitchin-Lily Markland 8-2; Amara Hollifield-Bailey Mundy (O) d. Ella Waldman-Belen Akers 6-3
Sara Muse-Kristen Hall (PC) d. Amara Hollifield-Bailey Mundy 8-3