Fighting fatigue and a one-set deficit, Chapel Hill junior David Mizroyan rallied to defeat Orange senior Jabari Hargrove in Wednesday’s finals of the Big-8 Conference tennis championships.
Mizroyan’s 2-and-1/2 hour match with Hargrove was the last of the day at Orange High School’s Community Tennis Courts, and it completed a sweep of the individual championships for Chapel Hill, which had gone 11-2 overall and undefeated this season against Big-8 opponents to win the conference’s team title.
The newly minted team of senior Jared Weber and freshman Jerry Cai, put together by Chapel Hill coach Neil Alderman with the post-season in mind, defeated Orange’s Lee Oeschle and Lionel Reid-Shaw 6-1, 6-2 to win the Big-8 doubles championship.
“It was a really good performance by everyone,” Alderman said. “It was a hot day, and I liked how everyone fought and hung in there. I’m really proud of them, and I hope this gets everyone off to a good start in the regionals.”
Weber and Cai, usually Chapel Hill’s No. 2 and No. 3 singles players, had paired together only once before – in an 8-0 shutout of Oeschle and Reid-Shaw back on March 16. The Chapel Hill duo dominated Wednesday, losing just two games total in the first two rounds, three games in the final.
“This meant a lot to me as a senior,” Weber said. “I’d been here three years in a row and finished second. It was really nice to come in here and win this conference title.”
“It’s a good start for my career, a big win as a freshman,” Cai added.
All the players who reached the semifinal rounds Wednesday qualified for next week’s N.C. High School Athletic Association state individual tournament.
“These were satisfying wins for all of us,” Mizroyan said. “Now we get to go to the regionals with a better seed.”
Singles qualifiers included Chapel Hill sophomore Patrick Dayton, who fell to Hargrove 6-0, 6-3 in one semifinal, and Cedar Ridge’s Brice Phares, who was defeated 6-2, 6-2 by Mizroyan in their semifinal. Northwood’s Arlo Estill and Giles Corzine and the Chapel Hill team of freshman Paul Tsui and sophomore Zack Bolzan also qualified in doubles.
Seeded No. 1 entering the conference tournament, Mizroyan (9-3) was undefeated this season in singles against 3A opponents, and he had defeated Hargrove 6-4, 6-4 in their only previous meeting. But the No. 2-seeded Hargrove, 12-4 this season at No. 1 singles, won the first set Wednesday with a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), and the first game of the second set before Mizroyan came back to win it 6-4 in a battle of long rallies.
“He was tougher than most opponents I face in high school. He controlled most of the points,” Mizroyan said. “If I was going to win, I had to stay patient. That’s what I did.”
With Hargrove committing more unforced errors as he fell behind, Mizroyan then rolled through the third-set tiebreaker 7-3 to win the Big-8 championship.
Mizroyan said he felt like he was running out of steam after two matches earlier Wednesday – an 6-0, 6-1 victory over Orange’s Davis Scott and then the semifinal win against Phares.
“When I play USTA tournaments, I’m usually good for two matches. A third one in one day tires me out some,” Mizroyan said.
“David really gutted it out today,” said Alderman. “Jabari played really well, and David hung in there and did a really good job of making Jabari work, and he came out on top.”