RAEFORD — Richmond’s girls’ tennis team became the first fall sports program to enter postseason play on Tuesday at the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament.
The Lady Raiders competed in singles and doubles play against the SAC’s two other 4A schools — Pinecrest and host Hoke County.
Several players advanced past the opening round, with one doubles pairing making it to the semifinal round.
“Today was a great day for our tennis team,” head coach Jessica Covington said. “All of the girls played hard and were competitive in their matches. We faced good opponents from two good teams and it was good to see our girls advance deep into the tournament.”
Four different Lady Raiders competed in the singles tournament — seniors Ashlyn Bouldin, Maren Carter and Savannah Jordan, along with freshman Jentry Denson.
Advancing to the quarterfinals were No. 5 Bouldin, No. 7 Carter and No. 9 Denson. Jordan, who was the No. 14 seed, fell early against Pinecrest’s Cina Huston.
Bouldin secured a first-round bye that moved her to the second round to face the Lady Patriots’ Lauren Goodridge, which ended in a 2-6, 0-6 elimination bout for the Richmond senior.
Carter earned an 8-3 win over Alyssa Pridgen (Hoke County) before being eliminated by Pinecrest’s Gabby Hopper 1-6, 0-6 in the quarters.
Denson rolled to an 8-5 win in her first match of the day against Savannah Steenrod (Hoke County), but suffered an 0-6, 0-6 loss to top-ranked Brooke LaFrenz from Pinecrest.
Doubles play also fared competitively for the Lady Raiders, who sent three teams into the bracket.
Senior Hana Oki and junior Neely Turner continued their impressive performance this season as teammates, making it all the way to the semifinal round as the No. 2 tandem.
Also playing doubles were No. 5 senior Addison Massey and sophomore Hanna Smith, along with the No. 14 pairing of senior Rylie Bohman and sophomore Madison Grimes.
Bohman and Grimes, who played together for the first time this season, bowed out in the opening round with a 2-8 loss to Hoke County’s Azari McLean and Kalea Parker.
Both Oki and Turner and Massey and Smith received a first-round bye. In the quarterfinals, Massey and Smith were eliminated by scores of 5-7 and 2-6 against Pinecrest’s Eliza Hage and Chloe Beane.
Making a statement win to advance to the semis, Oki and Turner handed Lady Patriots Ella Boals and Emma Medina a 6-4, 6-0 loss.
That set up a meeting with Anncey Pratt and Livia Pratt of Pinecrest, which resulted in a tightly contested 3-6, 4-6 loss for the Lady Raiders.
“I hate to see our season come to an end and we were one win away from Hana and Neely qualifying for regionals,” Covington closed. “I think the girls had a great year and learned a lot, and we will definitely miss our seven seniors.”