Tennis team on CPC thrill ride
Published 9:47 am Thursday, March 30, 2017
Amazingly, improbably and incredibly, Davie’s tennis team is 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the Central Piedmont Conference. It’s the longest winning streak in 11 years. It’s the first-ever 6-0 mark in the CPC for the War Eagles, who joined the league in 1986.
“It’s been great to finally be on a winning team,” said senior and top seed Elijah Gregory. “I knew it would be better than previous seasons, but I never imagined that we’d be undefeated at this point. This year everybody is in better shape and coming through in clutch situations.”
The match at Mt. Tabor on March 20 was as good as it gets in the regular season. Tabor was 5-0 in the CPC, Davie 4-0. Davie survived a 5-4 nailbiter. It was the latest in a string of stirring wins for the War Eagles, who earlier squeaked out 5-4 CPC wins over Reagan and Reynolds.
“If you are competitive at all, this is what you play for,” coach Shane Nixon said. “Two conference foes, both undefeated. This was the kind of match that makes me love tennis.”
No. 1 Gregory (6-1, 6-1), No. 2 Sam Jordan (7-5, 7-5) and No. 6 Parker Froelich (2-6, 6-2, 10-8 tiebreaker) picked up wins as the teams split singles 3-3.
Nerves were high in doubles. When Davie’s No. 3 team lost 8-3, the team score was Tabor 4, Davie 3.
“Mt. Tabor is very good 1-6, especially in doubles,” Nixon said. “They were 15-0 in doubles coming into this match.”
At No. 2, Jack Messick/Froelich pulled out an 8-6 win to tie the team score at 4. A few minutes later, No. 1 Gregory/Jordan rallied for an 8-6 win to secure Davie’s first win over the Spartans in four years. Last year the Spartans swept Davie 6-3, 5-4 and they had won six straight in the series. Davie’s last win was 8-1 in 2013.
“For us to get two doubles wins is just outstanding,” Nixon said. “Doubles had been our Achilles heel, so the work we did in practice is paying off. We worked on communicating with your partner, moving around the court with a partner, things like that, and it is starting to show some fruit.”
Things were extremely interesting late in the final doubles match. Gregory/Jordan faced a 5-4 deficit. They responded with a match-closing 4-1 run.
“Me and Sam were looking over to the other court to see who was winning,” Gregory said. “When we saw that it was our match that was deciding it, I think we both stepped it up a gear, and we didn’t lose a game after that.”
“This was a total team win,” Nixon said. “The guys were cheering for teammates, supporting each other. It was just remarkable.”
In a nonconference match on March 21, Davie rolled to an easy 7-2 win at Central Davidson.
Gregory (8-3), Jordan (8-3), Ben Fouts (8-1) and Ben Fleming (8-4) provided a 4-2 lead in singles. Gregory/Jordan (6-3), Fleming/Fouts (6-4) and Ben Marklin/Wyatte Copeland (6-1) swept doubles as Davie remained unbeaten in nonconference matches in Nixon’s three years as coach.
“It kept a kind of fun streak going,” he said. “We set that as a goal this year, and so we wanted to jump on the Spartans in singles and end all doubt.”
Davie’s thrill ride continued with a 6-3 home win over Reagan on March 22.
Back on Feb. 27, Davie prevailed 5-4 to triumph over the Raiders for the first time in four years. In the first meeting, Fouts/Fleming sealed the win in doubles In the rematch, Davie pulled out to a 4-2 advantage in singles.
Gregory (7-5, 6-1), Fouts (7-6, 7-4 tiebreaker, 6-4), Fleming (6-4, 7-6, 7-4 tiebreaker) and Froelich (6-4, 7-5) picked up wins.
“This was our third match in three days, so I was proud of the way our guys answered the bell,” Nixon said.
The War Eagles needed one win in doubles; they got two. At No. 3, Marklin/Copeland turned a 4-1 deficit into an 8-6 victory. At No. 1, Gregory/Jordan ripped off the final three games to win 8-6.
“Elijah and Sam took care of business as usual and avenged their only loss,” Nixon said. “Wyatte and Ben came from 4-1 down to get a big W. Those two play with a ton of heart.”
The winning streak is the longest since Davie rattled off 13 straight in 2006, when Barry Kennedy was coach and Davie finished in a first-place tie with Reynolds.
“To win two of three doubles is great and shows that our team is getting better,” Nixon said. “Not just winning, but getting better.”
Gregory is 9-0 at No. 1 singles. Jordan is 5-2 at No. 2. Froelich is 8-1, Fleming 7-2 and Fouts 6-2. Gregory/Jordan are 7-1 in doubles.