Cardinal Gibbons made it look easy the past two years sweeping state singles and doubles titles in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A individual tournament.
But it’s not that stress-free, of course, and it was up to senior Matt Galush for Gibbons to salvage one final 3A state individual title before the Crusaders move up to 4A for the 2015-16 school year.
The Penn State-bound Galush came through as he captured the singles crown with a 7-6 (7-0), 6-1 win over Waxhaw Marvin Ridge’s George Lovitt Saturday at the Burlington Tennis Center.
“I’m really happy for Matt to win playing singles for the first time as a senior,” Gibbons coach Andrew Tuttle said. “We’d like to have had someone playing in doubles, but we lost two close (quarterfinal) matches. The doubles competition was tough.”
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The past two years Galush teamed with Noah Constantine to win the state doubles titles, while teammate Robert Kelly, who is now playing in North Carolina’s singles lineup, won back-to-back singles championships.
“It feels good to follow up on Robert Kelly’s two state titles, and I know he’s going to appreciate that,” Galush said. “I was glad I won the tiebreaker in the first set. It was a tough match I thought might go longer.”
Galush had Lovitt down 5-4 in the first set, but Lovitt broke his serve twice to force 5-5 and 6-6 ties. As a junior, Lovitt has one more state title opportunity next year after losing the past three seasons to Gibbons’ players. He lost to Kelly in the second round as a freshman and Kelly in the third round as a sophomore.
“At least you won’t have to worry about Cardinal Gibbons next year,” a fan said as he accepted his runner-up award.
Galush finished with a career state individual tournament record of 15-1. The only loss was in the doubles state final as a freshman. In 2015, his singles record was 17-1.
Constantine was injured this year, but Galush said he planned to play singles anyway.
“I felt I had a good chance to win singles,” he said. “I think Noah would have had a good chance in doubles if he wasn’t injured.”
In the morning semifinal matches, Galush defeated Asheboro’s Austin Allen handily, 6-1, 6-0, while Lovitt had a tougher time before getting past Northern Guilford’s Mark Fujino, 6-4, 6-4.
Doubles was an all-Marvin Ridge final after it was an all-Gibbons final in 2014.
Ridge seniors Hayden Wohlfarth and Woody Watson defeated junior Avanish Madhavarm and sophomore John Hatala, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4.
Wohlfarth and Madhavarm were teammates in 2014 when they lost in the state semifinals to Gibbons’ Galush and Constantine.
The only other Mideast Regional players to advance to 2015 semifinals were the Union Pines team of Ben Williams and Dylan Dinkins. They lost in the semifinals to the eventual state champions, 6-2, 6-4.
Wohlfarth and Watson also eliminated Gibbons’ Kyler Zadell and Brody Chapman in the quarterfinals.