RALEIGH — In a rivalry match full of intensity from the start, Wakefield created quite a gridlock at the top of the Cap Eight tennis standings Monday with its 5-4 win against Broughton.
With one conference match to go before the state tournament, Broughton, Millbrook, and Wakefield are in a three-way tie for the conference lead. They all split their matches with the other two and will all be favored in their final matches, Wakefield against Heritage, Millbrook against Enloe, and Broughton against Sanderson.
Then it could get interesting in the state tournament bracketing as the Cap Eight has two guaranteed playoffs seeds and there are also two wild-card slots in the East.
“We’ve probably got the three best teams in the state, right here, certainly three of the top four,” Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said. “That’s what makes these matches so interesting or fun, you can’t ask for much more than that. This is a good rivalry, a fun rivalry. We had three tight matches last year and two tight ones this year. We’re playing programs in Broughton and Millbrook which have both won state titles recently.”
Wakefield split with the Caps in the regular season last year and then beat Broughton in the state semifinals to advance to the championship match, where the Wolverines lost to Reynolds.
Stewart and Broughton coach Bill White expected the match to be decided in doubles.
The Wolverines won singles matches at one (Bo Boyden), two (Jensen Martin), and three (Andrew Belonga). Broughton took four (Taylor Boole), five (Campbell Stone), and six (Blais Waters).
“I expected us to win at one, two and three, that’s our strength. It unfolded like I thought,” Stewart said. “Then it would be whoever took two out of three in doubles and it bounced our way today.”
Stone and Boole got the first win at No. 2 doubles, 8-2 over Kyle McKeeman and Lake Ihly. Minutes later Boyden and Martin topped Andrew Waddell and Patrick Longest 8-3 at No. 1 doubles and Belonga and Michael Portera stopped Carlton Bunn and Waters 8-1 at No. 3.
“This was just like a Broughton-Wakefield match, but we were also pretty emotional because if we didn’t win, we wouldn’t have a shot at the conference title,” said Boyden, a sophomore who is undefeated in Cap Eight singles play for two years. “Michael Portera is a freshman who hasn’t had a lot of playing time and didn’t play singles, but he stepped up in doubles and got us a win which was huge.”
Broughton’s Bunn lost by default at No. 3 singles after cramping, but still played doubles.