Wakefield had to work on Monday to keep its undefeated season going.
The Wolverines were forced to play doubles or the first time in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs since 2013, but came away victorious with a 5-2 against previous unbeaten Green Hope.
The host Falcons were up on the other two doubles courts when the match was clinched by Wakefield’s No. 2 doubles team of Jensen Martin and Nico Grewe 10-0 against Green Hope’s George Edwards and Matt Whitney.
Both coaches agreed the showdown of Cap-8 and Southwest Wake league champs came a round too early.
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“That’s the toughest team we’ve played this year – in a long time, actually,” Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said.
Wakefield (19-0) looked vulnerable without No. 1 player Bo Boyden for doubles due to injury. He has been playing through an injured ankle since the Mideast individual regional two weekends ago.
Gui Fonseca subbed in for Boyden in at No. 1 doubles but luckily for Wakefield, it only needed to win one of the three matches. Green Hope was up 9-0 on No. 1 and 4-2 on No. 3 when the match ended.
Wakefield won the top four singles matches with Boyden defeating Ben Wayand 6-3, 6-1, Martin downing Louis Rico 6-2, 6-4, Blake Carter taking down No. 3 Ashwin Iyer and No. 4 Grewe winning 6-1, 6-2 over Edwards.
“I knew I had to be more aggressive in the second set,” Carter said of his singles win. “I hit a lot deeper and put him on the defense a lot more.”
Green Hope (18-1) stayed alive thanks to a 6-0 6-3 win by No. 6 Eshaan Javalkar over Robert Belogna and a long, gutsy victory by No. 5 Rohit Ghotkar. Ghotkar dropped the first set 7-5 to Lake Ihly before coming back 6-1 in the second set and winning the third-set tiebreaker 10-8 to force doubles.
The Falcons lose just Rico and Iyer from this year’s team.
“I thought we competed tonight, as a team, the best that we had in probably the last three years,” Green Hope coach Kevin Taylor said. “Some of that’s maturity, some of it’s conditioning, some of it’s just – we’re just better prepared. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. We knew what we were facing coming in.”
Wakefield will host either Millbrook or New Hanover on Wednesday. If it’s Millbrook, it’s a rematch of last year’s NCHSAA 4A East final. Wakefield won the regular season matches 6-3 and 7-2.
“We know in our heart that we can win it, but something can always happen,” Martin said. “We have to stay focused in each of our matches.”