Wakefield and Green Hope brought home N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys tennis individual championships for their respective schools on Saturday at N.C. State.
Wakefield’s Nico Grewe and Blake Carter outlasted the defending champions from Page, 7-6, 8-6, 6-1 for the doubles title while, in singles, Green Hope’s Ben Wayand sliced through underdog Banks Evans of Clayton in straight sets 6-0, 6-1 for the program’s first boys’ individual title.
Having lost in the second round of the dual-team playoffs and uncertain they would even compete as doubles partners this year, Grewe and Carter were elated following their victory.
“This is the best feeling I’ve had playing high school tennis,” Carter said. “I’m going to take this to the grave, that I was able to end my high school tennis career with a state championship, playing with one of my friends.”
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“This is the best they’ve played as doubles,” Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said. “We always talk about focus ... In the big matches, they haven’t held serve. They’d get a break, and they wouldn’t solidify. Today, they didn’t get broke once. It was sweet. We’ve been talking like, ‘we’re the big dogs. Let’s hold serve and put the pressure on the other team.’ ”
In a game that could have gone either way in the first two sets, holding serve proved to be the difference maker for Wakefield.
And how do two senior tennis champions celebrate?
“We’re going to see Future and Migos,” they both said.
In the singles tournament, third-seeded sophomore Evans managed to upset top regional seeds Jaxon Wiley (D.H. Conley) and Hugh Knapp (Grimsley) in the second round and semifinals, but Wayand was too much for him to handle in the finals.
“Banks played great,” Clayton coach Ken Stivason said. “He has to grind for everything because he’s not physically mature, yet. But that will come.”
Stivason said that Banks, who went undefeated as a freshman, has the all-around game, but just lacked the size and muscle needed to compete with Wayand.
“He can hit all the shots, he’s very smart, and he has great touch. Ben was just stronger and taller and that made it difficult to get the ball past him.”
“He’s good for his age,” Wayand said. “I was surprised at the pace he was hitting and his forehand shot.”
Wayand lost in the first round of last year’s tournament but made sure to stay busy in the offseason by playing in a lot of tournaments and practicing in order to come back stronger. The hard work paid off, and Wayand was humble following the victory.
“I’m relieved,” Wayand said. “That was my last high school match, so I’m glad I won it.”