Panther Creek’s boys’ tennis team established another first in the school’s nine-year history with a 5-4 win over Enloe on Monday in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A dual team tennis tournament.
The third-round appearance was the first for the Catamounts, and the victory set their debut in the 4A East Regional final. Earlier this season, Panther Creek won its initial Southwest Wake Athletic Conference title.
“It was important to get to the third round and win,” said Panther Creek sophomore Trice Pickens, who accounted for two team points with wins at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles along with sophomore Sidd Pal. “We’ve had a great season setting school records.”
Panther Creek opened the match winning three of the four singles team points, but Enloe sophomore Nate Griffith at No. 5 singles and freshman Revanth Bobba at No. 6 rallied to tie the team score 3-3 entering doubles. Griffith won 6-3, 6-1 and Bobba 6-3, 6-4.
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The crucial next match to take the court was No. 1 doubles between Pickens and Pal against Enloe sophomore Michael Ogundele and senior Shantanu Sharma. Ogundele had advanced to the 4A state individual tournament semifinals, but with senior Rohan Chandraskhar as his partner. Sharma is Ogundele’s normal doubles partner, but Sharma had to play with junior Junious Whitaker. Ogundele suffered a groin injury in his 6-2, 6-3 victory at No. 2 singles, and Pickens and Pal took advantage with a 10-0 win.
“We were confident going into the match before we knew what happened,” Pickens said. “We knew if we kept our errors low and put away volleys, we could beat them.”
At No. 2 doubles, Panther Creek freshmen Alex Kim and Donovan Lilov defeated Enloe’s Chandraskhar and Griffith 10-4 for the clinching fifth team point. At about the same time, Enloe sophomore Ethan Saber and Bobba won at No. 3 doubles 10-5 for an official 5-4 team score.
Panther Creek’s singles wins were from Pickens at No. 1, 6-3, 6-2; Livlov at No. 3, 6-0, 6-2; and Pal at No. 4, 3-6, 6-2 (10-6).
Enloe, the Cap-8 champions, competed without veteran boys’ tennis coach Stephen Spivey. He was suspended after Enloe’s second-round win over Cardinal Gibbons on Wednesday for an in-match verbal dispute with Gibbons’ players.
“We had a great season with the way we played and our depth,” said Ogundele, who watched the remaining competition with his left leg wrapped in ice. “Our coach gave us great energy. To come this far was fun.”