It wouldn’t seem right if a Greater Neuse River 4A Conference tennis competition ended with anything other than victories by Clayton. The Comets have dominated the boys and girls ranks of the league for the past half-plus-decade and haven’t dropped a league dual match in the four-year history of the Class of 2016.
Two members of that class of 2016 helped bring home both of the conference’s boys individual championships Wednesday from East Wake High School, with some help from the next generation of Comet standouts.
Senior Klein Evans, a University of Richmond recruit and the 2015 state runner-up, turned back teammate and fellow senior Naren Guha in the singles championship, 6-1, 6-0, in just under 30 minutes to finish his career in Greater Neuse River singles matches with a 72-0 record and four league singles titles.
“It’s been a great year with my fellow senior captains (Guha and Campbell),” Klein Evans said. “I came in just trying to learn from the upperclassmen on the team and to build on what Clayton tennis is. Now I hope I’ve helped the young guys realize what it takes.
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“We’ve been part of not so much as building a tradition, because that was already done here, but creating an expectation for what Clayton tennis is going forward.”
Senior Brooks Campbell and freshman Banks Evans, Klein’s younger brother, made nearly as quick of work in the doubles championship, taking just under an hour to grab their first conference championships.
Banks Evans and Campbell pointed to their communication as the reason for their success this season. It came a little more naturally since they hit together going back as far as six years ago.
“It was a pairing that I thought was natural,” Clayton coach Ken Stivason said of his doubles duo. “Brooks is a talented veteran player with height, while Banks isn’t that tall of a guy but he’s got all of the power shots.”
The Comet duo dropped just three games through four matches in the tournament. They beat East Wake’s tandem of Jake Clement and Brooks Stancil, 6-0, 6-1, in the championship match.
Going forward, they’re eyeing another big tournament.
“I think our ultimate goal is to reach the state tournament,” Banks Evans said. “If we get there, it would be a great experience.”
Campbell said the key to their success of late has been simple: “We’ve just executed the shots, got to the balls we needed to get to. We played pretty well today, except for a couple of bad serves on my part.”
Garner’s Jordan Hudson and David Stewart, team co-captains, earned third place in the conference with a three-set win over Clayton’s Chris Riley and Dillon Hyde. Riley and Hyde prevailed in an marathon opening-set tiebreaker, 11-9, but Hudson and Stewart charged back to take the next two sets, 6-4, 6-2.
A Trojan also won the singles third place match in three sets. Jared Ingram shook off cramps and the speedy Laquan Gilchrist of Southeast Raleigh for a 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-4 victory.
The league will send five entries into the regional singles and doubles tournaments both next weekend. Southeast Raleigh’s Prudencio Munoz took fifth place in singles and West Johnston’s John Simon and David Atik will be the final entry in doubles play.