Chapel Hill High School boys tennis coach Steve Simmons had seen enough. The season hadn’t even begun yet, but he was ready to make a bold prediction after watching his players practice.
“I told them, ‘We’re going to win the state championship.’ I said that. We’re a good team and that’s what we need to be thinking about, and that’s what we need to be working toward and we still have that opportunity,” he said.
The Tigers (14-1) have that opportunity after rallying to defeat Union Pines (14-3) 5-4 Wednesday in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A dual-team playoffs.
With the match tied at four sets each, No. 3 doubles Jerry Cai and Zach Bolzan battled Union Pines Blake Deaton and Spencer Lynch into a 10-all tie. The Wildcats then took the seven-point tiebreaker 7-5 for the 11-10 victory.
“It was very intense, but we played really relaxed and Zach was in his comfort zone, and I was in my comfort zone,” Cai said. “They played so well and it pushed us.”
Chapel Hill will travel to No. 1 seed Rocky Mount (13-0) on Tuesday. Rocky Mount defeated No. 9 seed Western Alamance to advance to the third round.
It will be the first meeting between the two schools.
“I really don’t know too much about them,” Simmons said. “I try to focus more on what we do and how we play.”
Bolzan said Simmons’ preseason prognostication “excited” him and the team.
“We believed him all the way,” Cai said.