Wakefield pulled off the triple crown of high school boys tennis last year.
The 23-0 Wolverines laid claim to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A team title, Bo Boyden won his second career singles title and Philippe Lauture and Jensen Martin were crowned the doubles champions – beating their own teammates, Nico Grewe and Andrew Belonga for the title.
However the Wolverines will have a slightly different look this year with Lauture having moved to Charlotte and Harrison Tucker to California. Head coach Ken Stewart expects Kyle McKeeman and Belonga to help fill those roles seamlessly.
“I think it’s going to make it a little more difficult for sure, but we kind of had eight or nine starters last year. We were just that deep,” Stewart said. “We’ve still got (UNC-Chapel Hill commit) Bo and (UNC-Charlotte commit) Jensen. ... Blake Carter, who played for us last year and made it to states and was superb, he’ll probably move into (the No. 3 spot).”
Also returning are juniors Lake Ihly and Michael Portera, who contributed as freshmen two years ago and are both bigger and stronger, Stewart said.
“In a sense we’ve got six starters back, just from different years,” Stewart said. “But nothing is going to approach last year’s depth.”
Still, Stewart says the Wolverines goals are the same, and well within reach.
“I think we’ll still be able to compete at the highest level. This group is a hard working group and they’ve always been competitive,” Stewart said.
Teams to watch
Cardinal Gibbons (25-4): Five of six starters return to a program that has gone 148-17 under coach Andrew Tuttle. Davidson recruit Noah Constantine (26-9 in career singles) and Penn State recruit Matt Galush (53-2 in career singles) return as the NCHSAA 3A doubles champions. They defeated teammates junior Jim Mantyh (41-8 career singles) and senior Kyle Fitzgerald (24-2 careeer singles) for the title. Sophomore Kyler Zadell was 21-4 in singles last year.
Carrboro (16-2): Reigning NCHSAA 2A champs are led by senior Max Fritsch and Jake Zinn, 2014 doubles champions. Junior Brian Freiburghouse. was a state singles runnerup in 2013 and semifinalist in 2014.
Cary Academy (19-1): Returns No. 1 seed Alex Yang and No. 2 Calvin Ma to the NCISAA 3A champions.
Durham Academy (14-7): Justin Warren, who will play at Connecticut next season, has 101 combined singles and doubles wins and needs 10 more wins to set the school record. Jason Lapidus has 90 career victoris.
East Chapel Hill (20-2): PAC-6 champs bring back senior Ondrej Drobney along with sophomores Kevin Huang, Priyan DeSilva and Nicholas Rennie.
Enloe (11-4): Veteran coach Steve Spivey believes the program is improving and has nine returning lettermen. Junior Rohan Chandesekhar and senior Quinn Weiber lead the vets. Freshmen Nathan Griffin, Ethan Saber and Micheal Ogundele could make an impract.
Green Hope (16-3): Ben Wayand returns at No. 1 and junior George Edwards was the conference runner-up in singles. Louis Rico and Matt Whitney were the conference double runners-up. The Falcons have won at least a share of 13 straight conference titles. Junior Eshaan Javalkar, sophomore Rohit Ghotkar, sophomore Ashwin Inala, sophomore Vik Shashidha and senior Ashwyn Iyer will also factor into the lineup.
Holly Springs (11-3): Juniors Grant Miller and Chris Gold were state qualifiers in singles.
Millbrook (15-6): Logan Weber, a junior, was the 4A singles runner-up to Boyden. The Wildcats were 4A East runner-up to Wakefield. Juniors Matthew Moody and Austin Cobb were state doubles qualifiers. John Karlawish, a senior, was a 4A doubles runnerup in 2013 but missed much of last year with injury.
N.C. Science and Math (17-1): 2A East runnersup lose seven seniors but bring back seven juniors: Guy Blanc, Kevin Chen, Dhru Patel, Daniel Ren, Justin Yang and Neeraj Suresh
Panther Creek (12-5): Four key seniors return to SWAC runnersup: Mat Fahys, Ty Giggey, Anuraag Argawal and Alex Zietlow.
Raleigh Charter (12-1): NCHSAA 1A runnersup were led by Abichiran Baskaran, a sophomore and state singles quarterfinalist.
Players to watch
Bryan Zhang, Chapel Hill: Senior was a 3A singles semifinalist for the East runnersup Tigers (17-5).
Klein Evans, Clayton: Junior is a two-time state qualifier in singles for the reigning Greater Neuse champion Comets (15-1).
Will Clement, East Wake: 17-5 in singles for the Warriors (12-4).
Nick Stachowiak, Middle Creek: The junior returns to the court after missing last season with broken vertebrae in his back. Stachowiak is a Duke recruit who won the 2013 4A title as a freshman over Boyden.
Harrison Stone, Voyager Academy: Senior and No. 1 seed for Vikings (9-4), who were 1A East runner-up.