Lake Ihly did his part – twice.
It was clear how important he was in the Wakefield boys’ tennis 5-4 victory over previously undefeated Enloe on Tuesday.
The Wakefield No. 3 seed stayed calm and patient through a third-set tiebreaker win over Enloe’s Ethan Saber. The court gave the Wolverines (9-2) a 4-3 lead heading into doubles.
Ihly, a senior captain, was paired with Nico Grewe on the No. 1 court. All they needed was a one doubles victory to claim the match, and Ihly and Grewe, who also won his No. 2 singles, got it done with an 8-2 win over Rohan Chandrasekhar and Michael Ogundele to clinch the match.
Ihly’s single match, though, grew more intense, as it was the last to finish.
“I kind of just all started with my feet, from bottom to the top. Finish on your feet, get ready and follow through with your hands,” said Ihly, who overcame serving a few double faults during his singles tiebreaker. “My serve was struggling. I was basically trying to win more points on his serve, and he was doing the same. I was controlling the court well and dominated with my forehand.”
Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said the match was vital for the Wolverines, as the two-time defending state champions hope to make a solid playoff run.
“For us, we need to win,” he said. “Otherwise, we’re looking at maybe not getting back to playoffs.”
The match featured two singles tiebreakers and one in doubles, a No. 2 court battle that took an hour and 18 minutes to complete.
The No. 4 singles was deadlocked before Enloe’s Nate Griffith retired with a back injury, giving Michael Portera the win.
Ihly said Portera’s court was just as vital as his own singles win since Enloe took two doubles matches.
Enloe coach Steve Spivey, who said this is Enloe’s first winning season in his three years coaching the team, said the Eagles will rebound after the close loss. Enloe defeated Wakefield by the same margin earlier this season.
“We’re fine,” Spivey said. “That’s unlucky with Nathan. He was sick and he had that back injury (spasms), and he’s been battling that a couple of years. (The match) could have swung either way, even with him getting that back injury.
“We’ll come back and we’ll use this as a learning experience.”
Both teams are looking forward to their respective matches with Millbrook. Enloe hosts the Wildcats on April 19, and Wakefield travels to Millbrook on April 12. Millbrook’s only loss on the year was to Enloe.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan