Cardinal Gibbons carted home another load of trophies from the NCHSAA 3A boys’ tennis state tournament as Robert Kelly defended his singles title and Matt Galush and Noah Constantine repeated in doubles Friday at the Burlington Tennis Center.
But that’s not all – the doubles second-place trophies also were claimed by Cardinal Gibbons teammates. Jim Mantyh and Kyle Fitzgerald advanced to the final before falling to Galush and Constantino 6-0, 6-1.
Galush also had a hand – more specifically, a racket – in Kelly’s singles title.
Kelly broke a string in his racket in his semifinal 6-3, 6-3 win over George Lovitt of Waxhaw Marvin Ridge. Then he broke a string on the only other racket he brought midway through the final.
Kelly, who started sluggishly in falling behind 3-1, righted himself with Galush’s racket to defeat Swansboro senior Anthony Brennan 6-3, 6-2. Kelly’s ground strokes were too much for Brennan throughout the match, but he picked up velocity on his serves – and some aces – with Galush’s racket.
“It’s always fun to represent your school like this,” said Kelly, who is bound for North Carolina. “There’s pressure to repeat, so it feels good to come out here and close it out the way I did.”
Kelly improved to 23-0 as he chases his second straight unbeaten season. He was 25-0 last year and led the Crusaders to their third consecutive 3A dual-team title.
“He really worked hard after his sophomore year to improve his game,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Andrew Tuttle said.
Brennan had reached the final by defeating Chapel Hill’s Bryan Zhang 7-6, 6-1 in the other morning semifinal
The all-Cardinal Gibbons doubles final resulted from wins over a pair of Marvin Ridge teams. Galush and Contstantine defeated Avanish Madhavaram and Hayden Wohlfarth 6-0, 6-1. Mantayh and Fitzerald beat Andrew Vidtiz-Ward and Liam Florian 6-0, 6-0.
A week ago Galush and Constantine struggled to beat Mantyh and Fitzgerald 6-3, 7-5 in the regional final, but they were too strong in the state rematch.
“I think we played a little smarter today,” Galush said. “They’re a good team, but we won the bigger points.”
In the regular season, Galush plays No. 2 singles and teams up with Kelly in doubles, while Constantine plays No. 3 singles pairs off with Mantyh.
Galush played in his third straight doubles final after he finished as the state runner-up in 2012 with Killian Steer. In three years of state tournament doubles play, Galush is 11-1; Constantine is 8-0 in two seasons.
“We felt a little pressure (to defend) going into it because it we had thought about it since we won last year,” Constantine said. “But Matt is such a relaxed player on the court, that really helped get rid of any nerves.”