Forgive Green Hope coach Kevin Taylor or Cary coach Jane Trotter if they were a little more focused than normal Monday afternoon at Dunham Park. Because of winter weather, both coaches had to evaluate their players against other players instead of practice.
“For many of these players, Friday (the season opener against Wakefield) was the first time I’ve ever seen them play. It’s hard to know what you got. But at the same time, sometimes playing matches is the way to find out what you’ve got too,” Trotter said. “I have definitely learned a lot.”
Green Hope, which returns its full lineup from last year, found Cary to be competitive in a 9-0 win that opened Southwest Wake Athletic Conference play for both.
The Falcons (2-0, 1-0) were without top two players Louis Rico and Ben Wayand, which put junior George Edwards at No. 1 singles. He won 6-1, 6-2 against Cary senior Will Lake.
“We want to go farther than the quarterfinals,” Edwards said, noting the round where the Falcons usually run into state powers Wakefield or Millbrook. “Even today, we’re looking better even without our two best in Rico and Ben.”
At No. 2 singles, sophomore Rohit Ghotkar defeated promising Cary freshman Lawrence Friedland 6-3, 6-3. Senior Ashwin Iyer won at No. 3 6-1, 6-2 against sophomore Noah Jabush, No. 4 junior Eshaan Javalkar won 6-1, 6-2 against Dylan Ramey, Lu Cao won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 5 against junior Kyle Morganstein and Jose Abde won at No. 6 6-, 6-0 against freshman Dane Hunt.
Green Hope has an international flair this season with Abde, a Chilean, to go with players of Indian and Asian descent.
Taylor hopes his melting pot of talent pays off with more experience this year.
“I anticipate we’ll be a little better in singles and I hope we’re a lot better in doubles. That’s my project for this year,” Taylor said. “Last year I felt there were more boys. This year there are more men. My leadership is good.”
Cary (0-2, 0-1) has a bigger team than normal. And it’s intelligent with two class salutatorians on the roster.
“This is a very smart team,” Trotter said. “It’s nice to have a full team for a change. We’re usually struggling to get enough players. But we’ve got 16 who can play.”
Cary’s Lake and Jabusch fell to Green Hope’s Edwards and junior Matt Whitney 8-3 at No. 1 doubles and Morganstein and junior Cameron Friedland lost at No. 3 8-2 to Javalkar and Vik Shashidhar.
The marathon match happened at No. 2, where Cary’s Lawrence Friedland and Ramey battled Abde and senior Ashwin Inala to a 9-8 loss.
“I feel like I see a lot of fight in these guys and I see a lot of determination. There’s a lot of ability,” Trotter said.