Green Hope and East Chapel Hill both got what they needed, if not what they wanted, from Thursday’s non-conference tennis match.
Green Hope, No. 3 in the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Associations 4A rankings, got the top competition it craved after feasting on lighter-weight teams and finishing undefeated in the Southwest Wake Athletics Conference. East Chapel Hill, No. 2 in the NCHSTA 4A poll, got a 5-4 victory over a talented team, boosting the confidence of the freshman-replete Wildcats as they prepared for their conference tournament next week.
The Wildcats’ win was the eighth straight for East (18-1, 10-0 PAC-6) since a 7-2 loss to No.1-ranked Wakefield.
“We need to play some better matches,” Green Hope coach Kevin Taylor said. “That’s why we’re here today. We need to play tougher teams to be match ready for the tournaments.”
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Green Hope has been snake-bit when it comes to scheduling tougher opponents this season. A match against reigning state champion Millbrook was rained out. When the Falcons faced Middle Creek in a conference match, the Mustangs’ Nick Stachowiak, the defending state 4A champion, wasn’t available to play Green Hope’s then-undefeated Ben Wayand because of back problems.
Wayand, a freshman who was home-schooled until January, was an unexpected and welcome addition to a Green Hope program that lost six seniors off a last year’s SWAC champions, Taylor said.
“Most people would call this a rebuilding year,” Taylor said.
But before Thursday, the Falcons (14-2, 11-0 SWAC) had lost only to 3A No. 1 Cardinals Gibbons. Wayand (11-1) suffered his only loss of the season in that match, losing to North Carolina signee Robert Kelly.
At East Chapel Hill, Wayand’s match at No. 1 singles with Max Smith started in warm afternoon sunshine and was finished under the lights with a third-set tiebreaker at chilly Wildcat Tennis Stadium.
Wayand lost the first set badly, at one point tossing his racquet and declaring “This is the worst you’ve ever played in your life,” but regained his composure quickly. Smith fought off four match points before Wayand prevailed 2-6, 7-6, 15-13.
Green Hope’s Louis Ricco won 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2 against Jack Devonport and Ashwin Iyer defeated East’s Robert Bond 5-7, 6-0, 10-4 to help send the match into doubles.
East Chapel Hill had gotten of to a great start as freshman Nicholas Rennie swept sophomore Eshaam Javalkar 6-1, 6-1.
Kevin Huang and Priyan DeSilva, two of East’s three starting freshmen, won their singles matches at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, to put the Wildcat up 3-0 in the team score.
After Rennie and Devonport blanked Rohitr Ghotkar and Javalkar, 8-0, Huang and DeSilva clinched the team match with their 8-4 win at No. 2 doubles. Wayand and Ricco won at No. 1 doubles after East clinched the team win.
“This was an important win for us,” DeSilva said. “It served as a good wakeup call.”
“It tells us that we need to pick it up some as we prepare for the post-season,” Huang said.
The match was the last of the regular season for Green Hope, which heads into the SWAC tournament Monday and Tuesday. East Chapel Hill will try to squeeze in one last match before Wednesday’s PAC-6 tournament. The Wildcats will play Monday, hoping to finish a home match with Durham Academy that was tied 3-3 last Monday before rain halted play.
Chapel Hill takes down No. 1 Carrboro
The formula was the same but the result was different Thursday as Chapel Hill avenged an earlier loss at Carrboro with a 5-4 defeat of the Jaguars.
As in their meeting in Mid-March, when both were undefeated, the teams split the singles 3-3. Chapel Hill then clinched the team victory with doubles wins by Chris Chang-Bryan Zhang and Jared Weber-Ryan Bradley.
Chang and Bradley won their singles in straight sets at No. 1 and 3, respectively, while Chapel Hill teammate Lucas Prata survived a third-set tiebreaker to defeat Tarek Zikrey, 6-4, 3-6 (10-7).
Brian Freiburghouse and Jason Wyckoff likewise needed third set tiebreakers to win their singles for Carrboro, while Aaron Hiller won in straight sets to help force the match into doubles.