Undefeated Wakefield advanced on Wednesday to Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys dual-team tennis state championship with its third victory over Millbrook this season.
Wakefield took a 5-1 victory over the Wildcats, who were ranked among the top teams in the state all season despite 7-2 and 6-3 losses to Wakefield, which has been No. 1 all season after winning the title in 2014.
“Last year was an unbelievable accomplishment to win the state title,” said Wakefield senior Bo Boyden. “But we knew we had a target our backs this year and had to keep working hard. This is a new year and to win the state title we knew we had to approach each practice with a purpose.”
Boyden, Wakefield’s No. 1 singles player bound for North Carolina, won his match 6-3, 6-1.
The Wolverines’ other four points came from No. 2 senior Jensen Martin, 6-4, 6-0; No. 3 sophomore Blake Carter, 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 sophomore Nico Grewe, 6-2, 6-3; and No. 6 junior Robert Belonga, 6-4, 6-3.
Millbrook’s No. 5 Josiah Schainblatt, a freshman, won 6-2, 6-0.
“Playing Wakefield made us a better team,” Millbrook coach Craig Isdahl said. “Anytime we went out of the Cap 8 Conference, the competition wasn’t as tough. We wouldn’t want to change anything. We wish them luck and hope they represent the Cap 8 well at the state finals.”
With the victory, Wakefield returned to the 4A state finals Saturday at the Burlington Tennis Center. Although Boyden, Martin, Carter and Grewe remained at the top of the lineup, the Wolverines had two new singles players this year, junior Lake Ihly at No. 5 and Belonga at No. 6.
“We had two new guys this year, but we continued to work hard,” said Martin, who is bound for UNC-Charlotte. “This was a new year, but we kept working hard with a purpose.”
In addition to seeking a second straight team title, Boyden and Martin can finish their high school careers with four state titles overall.
Boyden won the 2014 state singles title and teamed with Martin for the 2015 state doubles championship. Martin has won back-to-back state double titles after teaming with Philip Lauture as a junior before playing with Boyden, his long-time friend, in 2015.