Six Wakefield boys tennis players painted the courts maroon with their school color shirts marking up the semifinal and final matches of the NCHSAA 4A Mideast Regional Saturday at Middle Creek High.
Wakfield junior Bo Boyden won the singles title to lead a sweep that included teammates Jensen Martin and Phil Lauture claiming the doubles crown and six Wolverines in all earning state berths.
“We have six guys in states and two doubles teams in the (regional) final,” said Boyden as he motioned to the on-going all-Wakefield doubles final. “I’m proud of everyone working hard and pushing it every day.”
Boyden defeated Millbook’s Logan Weber in the singles final 6-3, 6-1.
In doubles, Martin and Lauture battled through a two-hour marathon before beating teammates Andrew Belonga and Nico Grewe. Regional competition calls for a third set instead of a tiebreaker as Martin and Lauture won 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
With all finalists and semifinalists advancing to state, Wakefield’s sixth qualifier was freshman Blake Carter who finished fourth in the regional. He fell to Clayton sophomore Klein Evans in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, in the third place match. Evans became a two-time state qualifier. Carter bowed to Boyden in the semifinals.
Boyden, a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder, had his eyes set on the regional title for the past year after he lost to Middle Creek’s Nick Stachowiak in both the regional final and the state final.
“I trained all year for this,” he said. “It’s good to know all the hard work paid off.”
One of Boyden’s training partners at the North Hills Tennis Academy is Stachowiak, who was unable to defend this title after suffering a back injury. Stachowiak’s injury at the start of the season elevated Boyden to regional and state favorite, but Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said his top player never let up on his preparation for the post-season.
“He’s hungry and focused,” Stewart said. “He’s better in every facet of his game this year than he was last year.”
In doubles, Martin and Lauture advanced to the final with a forfeit when the Green Hope team of Louis Rico and Matt Whitney were unable to compete due to bouts with the stomach flu. In the other semi, Belonga and Grewe defeated Millbrook’s Matthew Moody and Austin Cobb 6-3, 6-1.
Without a semifinal match, Martin and Lauture compensated with a lengthy warmup session to prevent starting out flat. They also resisted overconfidence after having recently dispatched Belonga and Grewe routinely in the Cap Eight Conference final.
“We knew we had to come out focused,” Lauture said. “We knew they would come out ready to play the way they did today.”
In the third set, Jensen and Martin rallied from a 5-4 deficit to win three of the final four games.
“Normally in practice we just play one set and it might go either way,” Martin said. “But a tournament is a lot tougher than in practice when you’re just working on stuff. This match was for the title.”