Just more than a week ago, Hayley Carter was beating opponent after opponent, helping carry the University of North Carolina to an NCAA women's tennis final.
Despite her individual victory over UCLA's Jennifer Brady, however, the Tar Heels came up short, losing to the Bruins in a tight national championship match.
The Hilton Head resident and Smith Stearns Academy product admitted she was heartbroken after the final, but said her outstanding play last season -- which led to her being named the Atlantic Coast Conference's Freshman of the Year -- has given her some motivation for her sophomore season.
"It was obviously a tough finish but an incredible experience," Carter said of the tournament. "I can't wait until next year. I played really well early, and I got some confidence going."
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Carter, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the singles championship before losing to Virginia's Danielle Collins, said her improvement over the course of the season was a result of adopting a more aggressive style, which included coming to the net more often and trying to hit deeper balls to unsettle opponents. Carter said at the college level, players hit harder with more consistency, which was an adjustment.
But Carter has clearly adapted well to college tennis.
"I think I thrived in the team environment," Carter said. "It's great playing with all of your teammates supporting you."
Now she'll focus on recovering from a pair of injuries that hampered her in the second half of the season, including a stress reaction in her shin and a torn plantar fascia. She said at first, she was devastated by coming up short in the hunt for a national title, but she's had more time to reflect.
"Looking back on it now, it's obviously a great accomplishment."
LONG COVE CLUB HONORS REID
Hilton Head's Long Cove Club unveiled a plaque commemorating former pro Kerry Melville Reid, who was inducted into Tennis Australia's Hall of Fame this year.
Reid attended the ceremony along with her husband, Grover Reid, friends and Long Cove Club officials.
Reid, a former top-10 player in the world in the late 60s and 70s, was the Australian Open singles champion in 1977 and doubles champion in 1968 and 1977. She was also a doubles champion at Wimbledon in 1978.
Some of Reid's accomplishments include being ranked in the world's top 10 from 1968 to 1979 and a career-high ranking of No. 5. She won the Australian Open women's singles title in 1977 by beating Dianne Fromholtz, 7-5, 6-2.
LOCAL WINNERS IN BELTON
Bluffton resident Sara McClure, 12, won the Girls 12 division at the USTA Palmetto State Championships held last week in Belton.
McClure is currently the state's top-ranked player in her age range. McClure, a product of the Smith Stearns Academy on Hilton Head Island, has now qualified for the Southern Region Championships in June in Cary, N.C.
In Girls 18 singles play, sisters Carolina and Jade Lewis of Hilton Head Island, squared off in the final. They were the top two seeded players in the division. Top-seeded Jade Lewis defeated her older sister, 7-6, 6-2.
Jade Lewis competed in the $10,000 USTA pro circuit tournament this week on a wild card entry, losing in the first round.
In the same tournament last year, Jade Lewis defeated Carolina Lewis in qualifying and went on to earn her first professional victory.