Eastern Wake: Sports

Clayton’s Evans dominates Greater Neuse River 4A tennis tournament

East Wake’s David Egan takes a swing in the doubles semifinals in the Greater Neuse River conference tournament at East Wake on Thursday.
East Wake’s David Egan takes a swing in the doubles semifinals in the Greater Neuse River conference tournament at East Wake on Thursday. newsobserver.com

Klein Evans was one game away from perfection at the Greater Neuse River 4A tennis tournament Thursday at East Wake.

The Clayton sophomore didn’t quite get there, but he said he’ll get over it.

Evans improved to 19-0 on the season with a 6-0, 6-1 win against East Wake’s Will Clement to take his second straight conference singles title.

Evans won his first three matches in the tournament with 6-0 scores.

The Comets, who won the conference with a 14-0 record and are 15-0 overall, swept the titles as senior Ian Bliss and sophomore Brooks Campbell won the doubles by a 6-2, 6-4 score against West Johnston’s Marcus Juarez and Ryne Turner.

“This has been a good year,” said Clayton coach Ken Stivason, whose team has won two straight conference titles and four of the past six. “Klein won it as a freshman last year, and the doubles team is steadier than it was last year.

“We have sophomores at (Nos.) 1, 2 and 3 and they’ve been carrying us. We’re stronger than we were last year, when we started three freshmen and two sophomores.”

Evans got to the final with a 6-0, 6-0 victory against East Wake’s Ty Matheny, and Clement topped Clayton’s Naren Guha in a 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-0 marathon.

“I like to get off to good starts and get momentum going and then keep doing the same things,” said Evans, who is ranked No. 4 in the state in boys’ 16-and-under and is 47-2 in high school matches. “It would be nice not to lose a game, but it’s not a big deal.

“My backhand is my strength and I’m pretty good on the back line. But I always need to work on my forehand and my second serve.”

Clement, who has never beaten Evans, said the long semifinal really didn’t make much difference.

“I think I had won five games against him this season,” said Clement, a junior who also plays soccer for the Warriors. “I knew I was going to lose however the semifinal went. But that (semi) was a tough match, and I played really well in that one.

“(Evans) just hits everything. On the back line, deep, everything.”

Campbell and Bliss had advanced to the final with a 6-3, 6-1 victory against Southeast Raleigh’s Hiren Gihwala and Blake Atkinson.

Juarez and Turner beat East Wake’s David Egan and Lane Adams 6-0, 6-1 in the other semi.

“We had a tough final,” said Campbell, a sophomore who is ranked No. 92 in the state boys’ 16-and-under. “We had never faced those two guys before. I guess maybe we fought harder, but (the West team) played great.

“This means a lot. We lost in the second round (of conference play) last year, so this means a lot right now. ”

Campbell and Bliss are 10-0 in doubles play this season.

“This is my first championship,” Bliss said. “I’d never made it to a final. This is awesome and I’m really proud of us.

“Brooks is really a hammer and he kills the ball. I just try not to mess it up for him. We generally can keep the ball in play and play well at the net, and we have good serves.”

Guha won the third-place singles match against Matheny 6-1, 6-0.

Southeast Raleigh’s Gihwala and Atkinson won a wild third-place doubles match against Egan and Adams 6-2, 0-6, 6-3.