Two-time reigning champion Winston-Salem Reynolds showed its experience in defeating Wakefield 5-0 Saturday in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys’ tennis championship.
Wakefield however, did make the match interesting. Nick Portera, along with fellow seniors Brad Land and Andrew Swaim, played tiebreakers in their singles matches.
Before his tiebreaker, Portera said he looked across the court and thought about how far he, Land and Swaim had come from their freshman year.
“We were all together in that moment,” Portera said. “It was pretty emotional. Once we all split the two sets, we knew we had a chance to win.”
The three seniors knew if they could each win their singles matches, the two teams would be tied heading into the three doubles matches.
Instead, the opposite happened.
Land fell to Reynolds’ Nick McDaniel 3-6, 6-3, 2-10. Portera was beaten by Avery Hale 4-6, 6-3, 8-10.
Swaim’s tiebreaker was the toughest. He fell to Paul Yamane 6-4, 1-6, 12-14.
All three Wolverines said Reynolds’ experience helped the Demons (21-1).
“They come here every year,” Swaim said. “I was shaking (during the tiebreaker) because I had never been here before. My nerves were getting the best of me, and my strokes weren’t clean.”
Bo Boyden was on his way splitting the first two sets of his singles match with Reynolds’ Chad Hoskins. Boyden lost the first set 3-6, but had rallied to take a 6-5 lead when the Wolverines lost the five other single matches.
Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said he was proud of how his team pushed the Demons.
“There was a moment in this match where I thought we had it,” Stewart said. “I felt confident having three seniors with all the momentum going into those three tiebreakers.
“It was one of those days where both teams played so well that it was just those small moments that were the difference.”
The Wolverines were disappointed with the outcome. But they also understood what it took to reach the championship for the first time in the school’s 12-year history.
Wakefield (19-2) was not in the N.C. Tennis Association 4A preseason poll. R.J. Reynolds (21-1) was ranked No. 1 in the preseason.
“We were the underdogs of the entire state,” Land said. “Before this season, I didn’t even conceive this was possible. We really came out here and gave our best.”
“I couldn’t ask anything more from them,” he said. “We came here wanting to put ourselves in a position to win. I don’t think we lost. I think we got beat.”