There were no surprises in Thursday’s boys tennis match between teams that are in opposite places at this point in the season.
East Wake (6-1, 5-1 Greater Neuse River 4A) rebounded from its only loss of the season to league-leading Clayton by posting an 8-1 victory over Knightdale.
The triumph was clinched during singles play, made official by Ty Matheny’s 7-5, 6-1 win over Knightdale’s David Nguyen on the No. 4 court. The Warriors produced that outcome in more than half their contests through the first cycle of conference play, excluding a match against Rolesville that was pushed back to April 8 due to wintry weather.
“We’ve never trailed heading into doubles,” East Wake coach Jackson Glasgow said. “West Johnston and Garner (matches) were decided in doubles, so other than Clayton and those two, the rest of the matches were decided in singles.”
The Warriors had few troubles in their other singles wins.
Will Clement defeated Peter Nguyen 6-1, 6-1 in the No. 1 match and Lane Adams won 6-2, 6-0 over Dominic Cau at No. 2. Brooks Stancil swept Brian Levine 6-0, 6-0 in the No. 5 battle and No. 6 Jake Clement topped Zack Shore 6-4, 6-0.
Knightdale (0-6, 0-5) got its lone win in the No. 3 singles match, where Andre Willis put away David Egan 6-1, 6-2.
“If you look at our scores, he’s the most consistent player we have and most of it has nothing to do with tennis,” Knights coach Martin Faison said of Willis. “He just wants to win and doesn’t want to lose. We’ve got to get that attitude to be contagious.”
East Wake went on to sweep the doubles matches.
Will Clement and Egan witnessed some resistance from Peter Nguyen and Willis in the No. 1 match but held on to win 8-4. The Warriors duo led just 3-2 but won the next two games to pull away.
“It was teamwork that really helped out,” Clement said. “We were just laughing and having a good time and chemistry really helps out.”
Adams and Matheny shut out Cau and David Nguyen in the No. 2 doubles match and Stancil and Jake Clement won 8-2 over Levine and Shore at No. 3.
Looking forward, Glasgow thinks his team is in good position to claim one of the top two spots in the conference and earn a team playoff berth.
“If we are third, we’ve won our non-conference match so hopefully that will help us get in the team duals as a wild card like we did last year,” Glasgow said.
Faison is optimistic his team is turning the corner. He said he’s seen improvement over last season, despite the fact that the Knights are still looking for their first win.
“We got swept by both Harnett Central and Southeast (Raleigh) last year, and those are both matches we almost won this season.”
Knightdale had two singles matches slip away in tiebreakers in a 5-4 loss to Harnett Central on March 5. The next week, the team won three singles tiebreakers against Southeast Raleigh to lead 4-2 heading into the doubles matches, but lost all three in the doubles round for another 5-4 loss.
“Instead of being 2-1 at the time, we were 0-3,” Faison said.
Faison acknowledged all teams faced setbacks due to wintry weather at the start of the season, but said his team is feeling the effects as much as anyone because of inexperience.
“No one on this team has more than one year of match play,” he said. “If we can get some more consistency in the practice schedule I think we’ll be alright.
“The only opportunity we’ve had to hit balls is when were actually playing in matches.”