Wakefield has been in the mix of the top-heavy Cap Eight boys’ tennis competition for years, finishing the past two seasons tied for the conference title.
This season, the Wolverines (13-0) remain undefeated after downing defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A dual team tennis champion Millbrook 9-0 in conference play Tuesday.
“Two years ago we tied with Broughton for the championship and last year we had the three-way tie (with Broughton and Millbrook), and, yeah, we talk about that,” Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said. “We would like to get the job done. It’s been a good run, but we’re looking to extend our limitations and get a little better. ... I think the conference (title) is pretty much done, but we still have to take care of business for a couple more matches. We’ve got a good cushion, but we’re not looking too far ahead.”
The Wolverines face Enloe Wednesday and Broughton on Thursday.
Millbrook (6-5) has been plagued by injuries, missing its top three players in a weather-shortened match against Wakefield earlier in the season and missing No. 1 John Karlawish on Tuesday.
Wildcats sophomore Logan Weber put up a fight at No. 1, pushing 2013 NCHSAA individual singles runner-up Bo Boyden in the second set before falling 6-1, 7-6 (2), as the Wolverines swept singles play, giving up just seven points at Nos. 2 through 6.
The coaches agreed to play doubles despite the score, allowing the players more court time against quality competition. Wakefield and Millbrook were ranked No. 2 and 6, respectively in the most recent N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association poll. Enloe was ranked No. 8 in the state.
“This conference is huge,” first-year Millbrook coach Craig Isdahl said. “There’s just so many good and talented players here. Look at the team we played today in Wakefield. They’re exceptionally talented. We have a lot of talent on our team. If we can get the whole team together and keep everyone healthy, that’s a big component. ... It’s just a brutal conference.”
Now, Isdahl said, the Wildcats need to focus on securing second place in the the league. The Cap Eight competition is difficult when a team has not been at full strength, but the Wildcats still have confidence against the top teams.
“I think we can really compete with any team when we have John (Karlawish) back,” Weber said. “We’re pretty deep. I really believe in all of the guys straight down to No. 14.”
Stewart said that while he would have liked to have played Millbrook at full strength, the Wolverines have benefited from a deeper lineup, which he hopes will propel the team through the playoffs.
“I think the last two years we were probably the strongest at the top of the line up, and now we’ve kind of filled in at the bottom with some depth,” Stewart said. “The goal is high. The bar is high. ... We want to play in the (state) championship. I think goal number one, winning the conference, is done.”