Nick Portera said he had dreamed of winning the biggest doubles match of his life with a overhead winner at the net.
Portera’s dream became a reality Wednesday. His match-point play gave Wakefield a lead Broughton in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys’ dual-team tennis semifinals at Millbrook High School.
Then, Portera jump into the arms of teammate Andrew Swaim in excitement when Swaim ended his doubles match with a similar overhead winner at the net to give the Wolverines a 5-3 victory.
As seniors, both Portera and Swaim knew they had led Wakefield to its first appearance in the state championship in the school’s 12-year history.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” Portera said smiling.
The two decisive doubles victories for Wakefield did not come easy.
Portera, along with senior teammate Brad Land, defeated Broughton’s Taylor Boole and Campbell Stone 10-7. Then, Swaim and Jensen Martin rallied from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Broughton’s Carlton Bunn and Alex Pollock 10-6.
Not only did the Caps give the Wolverines their only loss of the season, but it also showed the Wolverines they needed to improve in doubles play.
To start the season, Wakefield was not in the N.C. Tennis Association 4A preseason poll. Entering Wednesday’s match, Wakefield was ranked second in the state with Broughton at No. 3.
Swaim said the Wolverines were able to endure the Caps by having strong and consistent forehand winners. Swaim also wasn’t afraid to win points at the net.
“It’s hard to play for four hours straight,” he said. “It takes a toll on you, so I think playing aggressive beats the other team down.”
The best singles match was Wakefield’s Andrew Belonga against Bunn.
In their match a month ago, Belonga won 7-6, 5-7, 10-8, which tied the two teams before playing the doubles matches.
Belonga repeated his performance, this time rallying to defeat Bunn 2-6, 6-2, 10-7. The match lasted two hours and it allowed Wakefield to split the six singles matches with Broughton.
Gibbons advances: Cardinal Gibbons reached the 3A state championship by defeating Northern Nash 5-1. The Crusaders won all but one of the singles matches in straight sets. Senior Matt Daly defeated Northern Nash senior Michael Brackett 6-0, 6-1. Senior Killian Steer beat senior Julian Marrero 6-0, 6-1.
Cardinal Gibbons freshman Matt Galush also extended his unbeaten streak to 16 matches this season.