Thursday, 19 September 2013 11:05

LNC has a golden Archer

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Lake Norman Charter’s Hannah Archer is 10-1 this season. Lake Norman Charter’s Hannah Archer is 10-1 this season. Justin Parker

Hannah Archer won the 1A state title in tennis last year. As a freshman.

So she's just planning to cruise through her sophomore year in order to get another championship plaque, right? Not exactly.

Instead, Lake Norman Charter's Archer has overhauled her serve, changing her grip and her service motion so she can continue the pursuit of being great, not just good.

"I'm always looking to improve," says Archer, who began playing tennis at age 10 after swimming competitively for years. "It's a matter of work hard, work hard, and you'll get where you want to be."

Archer is calm and confident on the court, owning the moment with the maturity of someone much older than a first-semester high school sophomore, especially one who has only played for a few years. That's the case even if she falls behind early, which is rare, though she has rallied from as much as a 5-1 deficit to win a set.

"She shows a lot of patience and discipline out there," says LNC coach Geoff Southwell, noting that Archer knows the moment she needs to strike with an offensive shot. "That and keeping her focus and composure has made her successful."

Archer says her serve is coming around, though she still sees room for improvement. Southwell says she's consistent and usually makes her opponents play her kind of match.

"She has really good driving top spin, which keeps her opponents' feet back on the court and makes it harder for them to attack her," says Southwell.

Archer is 10-1 in singles so far this year — the same record LNC, ranked third in the state's 2A coaches poll, has as a team — losing only to defending 2A state champion Nancy Bridges of Shelby. Bridges won that Aug. 22 match 6-7, 6-1, with a 10-6 clincher in the third set tiebreaker.

But Archer, who trains at River Run, has posted notable wins against quality opponents such as fellow super sophomore Gabby Moore of Hough (6-2, 6-4 on Aug. 29), a 4A conference champion and state qualifier last year, and Community School of Davidson's Courtney Mudge, who handed Archer both of her losses a year ago and figures to be in state contention at the 1A level this season.

Archer and Mudge used to train together and have faced each other in countless matches over the years, but on Sept. 6, Archer beat her 6-1, 6-1.

"Every time I play her, I know I'm going to have to play my best game," says Archer.

At the state championships a year ago in Cary, Archer defeated Spring Creek's Emily Daniel 6-0, 6-0 in the opening round of eight. Then she beat Bishop McGuinness' Kyndall Cortes 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals before topping Mount Airy's Jordan Jackson 6-0, 6-4 in the finals.

"It was an amazing experience," says Archer.

Things have changed since last year, though. To repeat as state champion, Archer will have to do it at the 2A level, with LNC moving up a classification in the state association's realignment plan which went into effect last month.

But Archer says she's not thinking about what could happen in late October, when the season concludes with a tournament of the best 16 2A players in the state. She's not even taking for granted that she'll qualify.

There's a lot of tennis to be played before then.

"I'm really focusing and not looking too far ahead," says Archer.

That strategy has worked for her in the past.

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