Bo Boyden accepted Wakefield’s second straight dual-team tennis trophy, hoisted it high with one hand, and his teammates seamlessly formed a huddle around him in celebration.
Then, without prompting, the Wolverines broke into a semi-circle as Boyden unfurled the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championship banner to pose for photos.
Those were all veteran moves. Wakefield’s back-to-back state champions knew the protocol after defeating Greensboro Page 5-1 Saturday morning at the Burlington Tennis Center.
“The two titles were different,” said Boyden, the tournament MVP bound for North Carolina. “Last year we had more depth, but this team had so much heart. We knew it would be tougher to win this his year, but the guys worked extremely hard. It means the world to win. It’s been an honor to represent the school.”
Boyden won his No. 1 singles match 6-1, 6-1, and senior teammate Jensen Martin, who is bound for UNC-Charlotte, survived a nearly two-hour battle at No. 2, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
“That was a clutch match by Jensen,” Boyden said.
When Martin clinched the last remaining singles match, there was no need for doubles to be contested, and Wakefield’s 21-0 season was complete.
“There was nobody in the state that could touch these last two Wakefield teams,” said Wolverines coach Ken Stewart, boys and girls tennis coach for the past dozen years. “They were as good as any team anybody has seen (in North Carolina). I’ll stick by that statement.”
As freshmen, Boyden and Martin led Wakefield to the finals, but the Wolverines lost to a Winston-Salem R.J. Reynolds team that claimed its third state crown in a row. Wakefield was eliminated in the 2013 quarterfinals, but 2014 was the breakthrough year. The Wolverines have been collecting state individual and team titles since then.
Boyden won the 2014 state singles title and then teamed with Martin to claim the 2015 state doubles crown. It was Martin’s second straight doubles title after winning in 2014 with Philip Lauture.
“Bo and I first started playing together when we were 6 or 7 years old and met at clinics,” Martin said. “Every practice we strive to get better and better. All that preparation has helped us win the last four years.”
Boyden and Martin are moving on to college, but Wakefield returns its four bottom singles players, three of whom claimed team points to beat Page.
Sophomore Blake Carter won at No. 3, 6-0, 6-2; sophomore Nico Grewe at No. 4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3; and junior Lake Ihly at No. 5, 6-1, 6-4. Junior Robert Belonga was a strong player all year despite his loss at No. 6 to Page.
The Wolverines can hang a 2015 state banner next to the one that graced the high school campus courts this past year.
“I tell people these guys match passion with talent,” Stewart said. “It’s been a great decade of tennis at Wakefield, and especially the last four years.”