The Raleigh Charter boys tennis team is headed back to the state championship match after defeating Voyager Academy 5-0 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A East final on Wednesday.
Raleigh Charter, who earned the top seed in the postseason, will play the West final winner of Bishop McGuinness and Pine Lake Prep.
The defending champion Phoenix (19-0) have answered every challenge before them throughout the year, and tonight was no exception as they dominated in singles.
In the first match, Raleigh Charter’s Chinna Baskaran defeated Andrew Quick, 6-0, 6-1 for the first team point. Joseph Fisher took the second point with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Connor Hollon. Jake Satisky won 6-0, 6-2 for a 3-0 Phoenix advantage.
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Arjun Juneja and Arya Battula sealed the win with points four and five.
Raleigh Charter earned a No.1 seed in the tournament and dispatched of Research Triangle (by a 6-0 score) and Whiteville (9-0) to earn another Final Four appearance. The Phoenix turned out another shutout, as they won the first five singles matches, ending play before doubles were needed.
“Everybody’s got to be ready to go, from No. 1 to No. 6, singles and doubles,” said Phoenix coach Ryan Griffin. “Any match can come down to any court. Last year, Pine Lake beat us at the top and we were able to get them at the bottom.”
In last year’s championship match, Pine Lake Prep took singles matches one and three before the bottom part of the lineup gave Raleigh Charter the advantage heading into doubles, where they took two out of three to claim victory.
Voyager’s (17-3) season ended just short of making an appearance in Saturday’s championship game.
The Vikings could not get by their rivals, who defeated Voyager both times in the regular season by 9-0 scores.
“Coming into today, the last two years we were 29-5 with all five losses to Raleigh Charter,” said Voyager coach Douglas Quick. “The goal at the beginning of the year was to get here, the Final Four – we did. Everything else is just wonderful. Raleigh Charter is an experienced, wonderful team. Congrats to them. We will absolutely be cheering for them come Saturday.”
The Vikings struggled to find any sort of momentum. They were only able to win five games, as freshman Amith Jagannath fell 6-0, 6-2 to win the most sets in any of Voyager’s matches.
“Sometimes in sports you just run into a better opponent. I’m proud of our kids; all of them improved throughout the year,” said Quick. “They improved during this match. They had nothing to prove; they were underdogs. It’s David versus Goliath, and today, David fell short.”