Middle Creek’s Nick Stachowiak is glad to be back playing.
After missing his sophomore season with fractured bones in his back, the former NCHSAA 4A state singles tennis champ is into his usual routine – playing No. 1 singles for the Mustangs and picking up wins.
Stachowiak won 6-0, 6-0 in singles against Athens Drive junior Andreas Combos. He was paired with junior Alex Lycan to win 8-2 in doubles as the the Mustangs picked up an 8-1 win against visiting Athens Drive Wednesday afternoon in Southwest Wake Athletic Conference play.
Stachowiak was out three months with the injury, discovered just before the 2014 season started.
“I started slowly hitting tennis balls at the end of May and amped it up each week until I progressed to full health,” he said. “The time off, if anything, helped. I wasn’t able to hit tennis balls but I was able to work out with my trainer more and get bigger, faster, stronger.”
Stachowiak has been a resource to coach Jeremy Cunningham, who volunteered to take the helm this season after coach Rhonda Blanchard died unexpectedly in February, just days before tryouts were to begin. Cunningham has been the Mustangs’ junior varsity boys basketball coach for 11 seasons.
“Nick’s done a great job of leading the team,” Cunningham said. “I don’t try to pretend like I have all the answers or anything. I just let them play and pass on whatever tidbits I can.”
Other Middle Creek singles victories were: No. 3 Lycan 6-2, 6-2 over Athens junior Yugo Saito; No. 4 sophomore Delaney Mizell 6-2, 6-4 over freshman Brian Chatwynd; No. 5 freshman Will Anderson 6-3 6-2 over junior Tyler Brogan; No. 6 freshman Henry Hollyday 6-0, 6-0 over junior Leo Xu.
The Mustangs (4-3, 4-3) swept doubles as junior James Ranta and Hollyday won 8-2 at No. 2 and Mizell and Anderson teamed up to win 8-2 at No. 3.
Athens Drive’s only win came at No. 2 singles where senior Patrick Newsome defeated Ranta. The Jaguars (0-5, 0-5) have some players with varsity experience but others who are so new to the sport that they are learning how to keep score.
“The team is truly a mixture of that. It’s half and half,” said first-year coach Tiffany Johnson. “It’s a balance of making sure my veteran players are getting what they need and my new players are getting what they need.
“You want to hit winners, I get that, but you need to show improvement each game,” Johnson said. “As long as they show improvement, then I’m satisfied for now understanding that most of the players are coming back next year and we can improve upon that.”