Nick Stachowiak made quite an entrance into N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A tennis in 2013.
Stachowiak, then a Middle Creek High freshman, ran through the state’s best high school players to claim the NCHSAA 4A championship. He beat training partner Bo Boylen of Wakefield in the finals, 6-1, 6-2.
“I train with Bo so it is really hard to play against a friend,” Stachowiak said. “I know his strengths and weaknesses, just like he should know mine. He is great competition.”
Stachowiak finished 23-0, but he doesn’t regard it as a perfect record because there is no such thing as perfection in tennis.
“Tennis is a game of imperfections,” he said. “You try to control everything you can control and work yourself out of difficult situations.”
In past years, many of the top male tennis players have skipped high school tennis in order to have time to continue regional and national competition.
But Stachowiak said he loves high school tennis.
“It gives me the chance to represent my school,” he said. “It is something that I enjoy a great deal. I love it a lot.”
Middle Creek coach Rhonda Blanchard said Stachowiak has helped the Mustangs program.
“Nick represents every quality that a coach could want in a high school athlete,” she said. “He loves playing for his high school and is a leader on and off the court. Nick is not only an amazing tennis player but also a wonderful young man.”
The Mustangs also return three-time regional qualifier Justin Panepinto and four-year starter Edward McRowan and has added freshman Grant McGrew.
Boyden and Stachowiak are among the 4A favorites again this year while 2013 4A and 3A team champions Millbrook and Cardinal Gibbons may be even stronger than a year ago.
Teams to watch
Millbrook (19-3): The Wildcats return five of six starters from a club that nipped three-time defending state champion Winston-Salem Reynolds to win the NCHSAA 4A dual-team championship. Matthew Moody, one of four freshmen in last year’s lineup, was named the MVP of the state finals after winning a decisive match at No. 6 singles for a 5-4 win.
Junior John Karlawish, who may play No. 1 this year, was a doubles finalist in 2013 and was undefeated in singles.
Sophomores Logan Weber and Austin Cobb were Cap-8 and Mideast regional doubles runner-up to teammates last year. New coach Craig Isdahl also has back sophomore Michael Moody, who is Matthew’s twin.
Wakefield (16-3): Wolverines advanced to the dual-team tournament as the Cap-8’s top seed but lost to Broughton 5-3 in the third round. Boylen was state singles runner-up and junior Jensen Martin and senior Andrew Belonga advanced in doubles. Kyle McKeeman is a two-time all-conference player.
“We’ve been co-champs in the Cap-8 the last two years and would like to be a little greedier this year,” said Wakefield coach Ken Stewart. “This is by far the deepest Wakefield team ever with the potential to be better at every position.”
Cardinal Gibbons (26-0): The Crusaders lost one set while racing through the NCHSAA 3A dual-team bracket. They blitzed Charlotte Catholic 5-0 in the title match. North Carolina recruit Robert Kelly (25-0), the 3A singles champ, is joined by doubles champions Noah Constantine (17-3) and Matt Galush (18-0).
Broughton (21-3): Caps reached the NCHSAA dual-team semifinals before losing to Millbrook 5-4. Taylor Boole, Campbell Stone and Blaise Waters are back.
East Chapel Hill (14-6): Coach Lindsey Linker’s Wildcats added another Piedmont Athletic 4A crown last year. All of the starters return, including No. 1 Max Smith, and three talented freshmen have been added.
Green Hope (19-2): Falcons won their conference title and reached the third round in dual team before losing to Millbrook 5-3. They return two players from last year’s lineup, juniors Ashwyn Iyer and Louis Rico.
Panther Creek (16-4): Catamounts were second in conference behind Green Hope and lost to Wakefield in the second round 6-0. They return five of its top six players in senior Henrik Lindvall and juniors Guy Blanc, Matt Fahys, Ty Giggey and Anuraag Agarwal.
Chapel Hill (16-6): The Tigers reached the 3A dual-team Eastern finals before losing to Cardinal Gibbons. Juniors Bryan Zhang and Lucas Prata are back.
Carrboro (20-2): The Jaguars lost to Shelby 5-3 in the NCHSAA 2A championship and return state singles runner-up sophomore Brian Freiburghouse, seniors Aaron Hiller and Paul Flournoy, junior Max Fritsch, and sophomore Jake Zinn.
Cedar Ridge (18-4): The Red Wolves couldn’t get past Carrboro in the dual-team playoffs, falling 5-0. Junior Zac Marion is back.
N.C. Science & Math (16-3): The Unicorns lost to Elkin in the 1A title match in 2013, but have moved to 2A this season. Seniors Jimmy Sims and Austin Glass are back.
Apex (10-7): The Cougars return five starters from 2013 including seniors Carter Bradshaw, Cole Bowser and Kyle Klinek.
Cleveland (10-5): Coach Emily Purvis’ team was 0-16 two years ago, but return four starters from last year’s improved club. Junior Quinton Gonzalez and sophomore Dylan Betancourt play at the top.
Raleigh Charter (12-6): Raleigh Charter reached the 1A semifinals.
Clayton (15-2): The Comets won the Greater Neuse 4A title in 2013 led by sophomore No. 1 Klein Evans. Clayton returns all six starters.
Riverside (4-6): Coach Mika Hunter returns five starters, including juniors Josh Evans and Rob Sears.
Tim Stevens: 919-829-8910