Clayton freshman Chris Riley advanced to the Greater Neuse River Conference boys’ singles final to position himself to duplicate the league title Klein Evans claimed for the school as a freshman in 2013.
The problem for Riley, though, was Evans hasn’t yet graduated. The Clayton junior won his third straight GNRC title with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over his younger teammate on a windy Thursday afternoon on the Rolesville High courts.
“Chris had a great tournament making it to the finals as a freshman,” Evans said. “He’s a great young player. That was great for him.”
How dominant was Evans? Riley lost his first match of the year and was satisfied with his performance despite winning only one game. They had hit balls in practice, but it was their first competitive match.
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“There is so much that I can learn playing Klein,” Riley said. “A better question to ask is what I couldn’t learn from him. I didn’t know what to expect. I’m just glad I played well.”
East Wake brothers Will and Jake Clement won the conference doubles title with a 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over Clayton junior Brooks Campbell and junior Naren Guha.
“(Jake) is good at the net and I’m a good baseline player,” said Will. “We made a good team.”
Evans only lost one game in two rounds of play Thursday as he defeated Garner junior Jordan Hudson in the semifinals 6-0, 6-0.
“I just played my game and felt I played well for the tournament,” Evans said.
He added his goal is to improve upon finishing as a regional and state semifinalist as a sophomore.
“He’s a complete singles player,” Clayton coach Ken Stivason said. “He’s one of the best I’ve had and I’ve been coaching 18 years. He is a very disciplined player and a great team leader.”
Regional qualifiers: Evans and Riley; Garner sophomore Jared Ingram defeated Hudson for third place, 6-2, 6-2; East Wake junior Brooks Stancil beat senior teammate Lane Adams 6-1, 6-3 in the backdraw match for fifth. All six advanced.
Will Clement, a senior, didn’t want to go home empty handed after losing to Evans in last year’s singles final. So he teamed up with his brother Jake, a sophomore, to capture the conference doubles title.
“I was never going to beat (Evans),” said Will with a grin. “It’s nice get a trophy my senior year. They don’t give you a second-place trophy.”
The Clements battled back from a first-set loss to win the tiebreaker second set and the decisive third in an overall match that lasted two hours.
Regional qualifiers: the Clement brothers; Campbell and Guha; Clayton freshman Dillon Hyde and junior Vance Lanier defeated Harnett Central senior Frankie Sudia and senior Ben Peery for third, 6-4, 7-5; West Johnston sophomore Joshua Fink and junior John Simon beat Knightdale senior Will Snow and junior Andre Willis in the backdraw for fifth. All six places advanced.