War Eagles edge Reagan in season opener
Published 8:58 am Thursday, March 9, 2017
The Davie tennis team faced a major test right out of the gate, and Elijah Gregory, Sam Jordan, Ben Fleming and Parker Froelich gave the War Eagles just what they needed.
Visiting Davie held off a furious challenge from the Raiders and won 5-4 in the season opener on Feb. 27. Not only was it the first match of the season, it was the Central Piedmont Conference opener. Not only did Davie notch a big win, it stopped a six-match losing streak in the series.
“Based on early reports, Reagan could be one of the teams to beat in the CPC,” coach Shane Nixon said. “So getting a day-one win on their courts is huge for us. Doing it in such dramatic fashion is great.”
No. 1 seed Gregory came out breathing fire, the senior winning 6-0, 6-0.
“Elijah is just so impressive,” Nixon said. “He played a high-quality opponent in Ethan Evans, and it wasn’t even close. He is just an unbelievable player.”
Davie got clutch singles wins from senior Jordan (6-4, 1-6, 10-5), freshman Fleming (5-7, 6-2, 10-3) and junior Froelich (4-6, 6-4, 10-3). All three went to tiebreakers. All three ultimately went Davie’s way. Jordan is playing with a broken right wrist. It’s a good thing he’s lefthanded.
“All of last year we never won more than one split-setter in any match,” Nixon said. “To win three on opening night? It validates all we work on in practice as far as the other parts of the game.”
The War Eagles, who lost twice to Reagan last year by 7-2 margins, took a 4-2 advantage to doubles. They could not have prevailed without an 8-6 win at No. 2 doubles from junior Ben Fouts and Fleming. It was the first win over Reagan since 2013.
“What can you say about the freshman Fleming,” Nixon said. “First-ever varsity match and he gets two big Ws, including the match-clinching doubles win. Just incredible.
“I love this team and love the potential we have. It was a very dramatic finish.”
The War Eagles faced a lesser foe in nonconference play on March 3. But considering Davie was missing two of its top-eight players because of a band concert, Nixon was pleased with a 6-3 victory at Lexington.
It was the seventh consecutive win over Lexington since the teams started playing annually in 2013, but Davie needed a win in doubles to clinch.
“Lexington is vastly improved,” Nixon said. “(Its coach) has done an excellent job getting more out of his guys. They will do really well in their conference. This was a good win over a much-improved team.”
Gregory (8-1), Jordan (8-4), Fleming (8-4), Jack Messick (8-3) and Froelich (8-1) – the top five seeds – put Davie on the brink of victory. At No. 1 doubles, Gregory-Jordan wrapped up the verdict with an 8-6 win.
“Elijah is so good and so consistent that it is easy to take him for granted,” he said. “He is fun to watch play the game.
“Sam and Jack both played well. I was encouraged by their play. Parker has improved so much. Fleming – stepping into the three or four spot on a good team and going undefeated in his first three singles matches – is more than I could have asked for. He is the real deal.
“I’m real happy with where we are.”
Overall play in doubles, though, has left something to be desired. Davie has a 2-4 record in that category.
“We’ve got to get more consistent in doubles, and that is on me, and I’ll get it made right,” Nixon said. “We may have to switch some guys up, but we’ll get it figured out to maximize our talents and put us in the best position to get wins in doubles.”