Wakefield, who won their first conference title in school history this year by sharing the Cap-8 Conference title with perennial power Broughton, advanced to the 4A state semifinals by defeating Green Hope 6-0 Tuesday afternoon on the Wolverine’s home courts.
With Wakefield (18-1) sweeping singles from the previously unbeaten Tri-Nine Conference champion Falcons (19-1), the match was clinched in singles and doubles weren’t contested.
Wakefield and Broughton, who split their regular-season matches, will meet in the state semifinals Wednesday at neutral court, Millbrook Exchange. Broughton defeated Wilmington Laney 5-3.
“Wakefield was extremely impressive,” said Green Hope coach Brian McDougall. “I was impressed with their players, but my guys fought hard. We had some two-hour singles matches out here. We have a lot of juniors coming back, so these guys will have one more run at it. We’ll see what happens next year.”
Wakefield’s sudden rise has been led by freshmen Bo Boyden and Jensen Martin along with sophomore Andrew Belonga, who split time last year with Andrew Swaim holding the No. 1 singles role.
Boyden started the Green Hope sweep with a win at No. 1 singles when he took a the first set 6-2 from Falcons junior Kelly Patch before Patch retired with leg cramps.
Martin won at No. 2 singles over junior Matt Hammond 6-3, 6-4, Belonga won at No. 3 over freshman Louis Rico 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) and Swaim claimed No. 4 over junior Kyle Burns 6-3, 6-2.
In the other two matches, senior Brad Land won 7-5, 7-5 over junior Michael Neighbors at No. 5 and sophomore Kyle McKeeman won 6-4, 6-2 over junior Mark Wicklegren 6-4, 6-2 at No. 6.
Boyden and Martin have both been ranked in their junior tennis age group as high the top five in North Carolina and the top 50 in the nation, but they’ve embraced high school tennis. They say both say the plan to play high school tennis all four years, although top juniors often skip the high school season to work on their games.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be this competitive,” Boyden said. “I thought there might be slacking off. But Coach Ken (Stewart) has helped a lot with practices. We don’t slack off. We work hard. We use each other to get better. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Stewart, Wakefield’s long-time girls and boys coach, said despite Boyden, Martin and Belonga possessing superior tennis skills, Swaim’s experience and athleticism have allowed him to challenge the trio in practice.
“I’ve never played team tennis until now, and it’s a fun experience,” Martin said.