RALEIGH — Triple Crown sports titles are commonly associated with baseball or horse racing, but Wakefields boys tennis team is chasing its own variation this spring.
Weve played a lot of state individual and team matches this year, Wakefield junior Jensen Martin said. Were trying to win a Triple Crown singles, doubles and team.
The Wolverines won two legs last week and took another step toward the crowning leg the NCHSAA 4A dual-team title with a 5-1 team win over Green Hope on a Tuesday afternoon on the Wolverines courts.
Last weekend Wakefield swept the 4A state individual titles when junior Bo Boyden won singles, and Martin teamed with junior Phil Lauture to claim the doubles title.
Weve really fed off each other this year, Martin said. Our practices really drive us to be where we are. We have a lot of good players, and we learn from each other. We help each other a lot in singles and doubles.
Wakefield once again flexed its talent and depth to advance to Thursdays semifinals. The Wolverines played without two of their top single players as head coach Ken Stewart rested Lautures sore shoulder and freshman Nice Grewe on a day when the temperature was still in the 90s when the 5 p.m. matches began.
Wakefields full lineup has been busier than most teams this spring since all six starters advanced to the state individual tournament in addition to team competition. Freshman Blake Carter reached the state singles Round of 16, and Grewe and Belonga were the doubles runner-up to Martin and Lauture.
In Tuesdays match, Martin was the first one to get out of the heat as he wrapped up No. 2 singles with a 6-0, 6-1 win over sophomore George Edwards.
Boyden won No. 1 over junior Louis Rico, 6-2, 6-4; Carter No. 3 over sophomore Matt Whitney 6-2, 6-0; and Belonga No. 4 over sophomore Eshan Javalkar 6-0, 6-2.
Junior Harrison Tucker filled in at No. 5 singles and beat junior Ashwin Iyer by claiming the tiebreaker 10-5 after he had lost 6-7 and rallied to win 6-3. At No. 6 singles, Green Hope freshman Rohit Ghotkar beat senior Kyle McKeeman 6-4, 6-3.
Green Hope played without its No. 1 singles player, freshman Ben Wayand. He was with his family in New York following the death of his grandfather.
Despite the end of the season, Green Hope coach Kevin Taylor pointed to his young team winning the Southwestern Wake Athletic Conference title and advancing deep in the state tournament.
We made it to the quarter-finals, and Im comfortable that was a good season for us, Taylor said. We lost a lot of seniors from last year. Nobody played tight today; they were going for it. Im happy with our effort.
With no seniors among the top players, the Falcons return their entire lineup next year.
Weve got a good foundation to build on next year, Taylor said.