Even this early in the conference season East Wake boys tennis coach Jackson Glasgow already has a pretty good idea where his team fits in with the competition.
A 7-2 win over Knightdale Tuesday kept the Warriors in second place in the Greater Neuse River 4A standings with a 4-1 record. That’s about where Glasgow thinks the team will wind up in the end because Clayton, which gave East Wake its first loss by a 9-0 count on Monday, is expected to win the conference for a third straight year.
The only difference in expectations is Glasgow figures to be battling with Garner for second place instead of West Johnston, like last season.
“It changes our focus – we just want that second playoff spot,” Glasgow said. “We’re not unrealistic. (Clayton has) one of the best players in the state (Klein Evans) and their top five all play tournaments.”
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East Wake won just nine games in singles action in the loss to the Comets.
The Warriors fared better against Knightdale (0-4) on Tuesday, but it wasn’t because the Knights took a knee. Two of the singles bouts, both going to East Wake, were decided by tiebreakers.
“I think we can get a lot out of a match like this,” Glasgow said. “A lot of the singles guys play close and we had a good doubles match. Knightdale has a lot of good players and good competition to offer.”
East Wake’s Brooks Stancil outlasted Andre Willis 12-10 in the No. 3 singles tiebreaker after sets of 5-7 and 6-0, and Will D’Allaird won 7-5, 6-7 (10-7) in a marathon match against Knightdale’s David Nguyen on court No. 4.
Knightdale got a No. 5 singles win from Will Snow (7-5, 6-4) over Josh Hatley, and a No. 2 doubles win from Snow and Dominic Cao (9-8 (8-6)) over Hatley and Omar Ahmed.
“We’re just now getting a feel for things after all the inclement weather, but I’m proud of my guys,” said first-year Knights coach Jermod Mapp. “They keep their heads up and keep playing hard and you can’t do anything but be proud of that.”
East Wake brothers Will (No. 1) and Jake Clement (No. 2) led the way with respective singles victories over Dominic Cao (6-0, 6-0) and Kameron Ballen (6-1, 6-0). The Clements also paired up for an 8-0 win over Ballen and Willis in the No. 1 doubles match.
The Warriors’ other wins were at No. 6 singles with Ahmed over Tyrese Horton (6-1, 6-1) and at No. 3 doubles with Stancil and Lane Adams running the table against Nguyen and Horton.
Despite the outcome of both his matches, Ballen’s play was exceptional for the senior and first-time player.
“He’s a natural athlete,” Mapp said of Ballen. “I don’t think there’s a high school sport he can’t play. Andre (Willis) is the same way. The biggest thing is just getting these guys some more time on the court.”