Tennis makes winning look easy

Published 9:27 am Thursday, March 29, 2018

Davie’s tennis team is on a mission to repeat as Central Piedmont Conference champion, and the War Eagles have made 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the league look downright easy.

Keep in mind that Davie is flying high with Luke Stillson, one of the fabulous freshmen, on crutches. He missed all three matches last week with a high ankle sprain.

But Davie is pretty darn good without Stillson.

The War Eagles were massive favorites in the first two matches last week. They hammered visiting Glenn 9-0 on March 19. Jack Nixon (6-0, 6-1), Cren Rosenbaum (6-0, 6-0), Ben Marklin (6-0, 6-0) and Chase Johnston (6-0, 6-0) took down Glenn’s four players; Ben Fleming and Sammy Rosenquist received forfeits. This was Johnston’s season debut in the singles lineup, having replaced Stillson.

Fleming/Nixon (8-0) and Mike Werbeck/David Benfield (8-0) posted shutouts in doubles. Ben Norman and Walker Featherngill received a forfeit.

“Glenn is just building its program, so we felt strongly that we could get a win,” coach Shane Nixon said. “But you still have to go out and win the matches. We moved some guys up, got some guys a chance to earn a letter and some others a chance to get real match action.”

Davie kept the momentum going with another 9-0 win on March 22, this time at East Forsyth. Fleming (6-0, 6-0), Parker Froelich (6-3, 6-4), Rosenbaum (6-2, 6-0), Nixon (6-2, 6-1), Marklin (6-1, 7-6) and Johnston (6-0, 6-1) had the wins in singles. Fleming/Froelich (8-1), Rosenbaum/Nixon (8-0) and Rosenquist/Werbeck (8-6) finished things off in doubles.

“Our No. 5 player (Stillson) may be out until after spring break, and it is amazing what our guys have been able to do,” Nixon said.


The next day yielded the most satisfying win of the season, a 6-3 triumph at Reynolds. Last year the teams split 5-4 decisions. Davie had lost 18 of 19 meetings before maintaining its first-place status on March 23.

“Reynolds is not the juggernaut they were when the tennis academy was at Hanes Park,” Nixon said. “Back then, in the early 2000s until (2016), they were not a high school team, not a real one. They were a tennis academy team. Now they are more like what you expect a high school team to be. But they are still really good at tennis. To go over there and get a win is not easy at all.”

No. 1 Fleming (6-1, 6-4), No. 2 Froelich (7-6, 6-2), No. 4 Rosenbaum (7-6, 6-0) and No. 5 Nixon (7-6, 3-6, 10-3) staked Davie to a 4-2 lead in singles.

It was not utter domination; it was about guts and determination. Froelich and Rosenbaum prevailed in first-set tiebreakers. Nixon survived not only a first-set tiebreaker, but also a set tiebreaker.

“The top of our lineup set the tone again,” Nixon said. “Fleming and Froelich are starting to play like No. 1 and 2 seeds. Even though both much prefer singles, they are making great strides in doubles, too.

“Cren and Jack got two singles wins and a doubles win. They are not playing like freshmen anymore. Cren got a slow start but forced a first-set tiebreaker, which he won. Then he dominated the second set. Jack got out strong but let his opponent force a split. It was the first set Jack had lost all year. To see him respond and win the match in the tiebreaker? Absolutely fantastic. I’m not sure if I was prouder as coach or dad, but I know I was really proud as both. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to their careers.

“Seniors Marklin and Johnston played really well. Again, Reynolds is a good team, so losing to them is not something to be ashamed of by any means. Ben did what Ben always does. I never have to worry about getting effort from Ben Marklin. Chase is, to put it bluntly, playing over his head and had put up two big wins. Today he got beat by a better player; there’s no shame in that. Ben and Chase have never played doubles together, but with Luke’s injury were forced into that role. Looking at the matchup, I thought letting them play against the two Reynolds had at No. 2 was a better match for them, but it didn’t turn out so well. I’m still very proud of their effort.”

In doubles, No. 1 Fleming/Froelich (8-1) and No. 3 Rosenbaum/Nixon (8-6) polished off Davie’s seventh consecutive victory.

For the season in singles, Fleming is 6-2, Froelich 6-1, Marklin 4-4, Rosenbaum 7-1 and Nixon 8-0. The injured Stillson is 4-1.

“I’m so proud (of the tiebreaker wins),” he said. “In our practices, we talk about once it gets to a tiebreaker of any kind, it isn’t about tennis – you and your opponent are equal. So tiebreakers are about guts and ‘want to.’ We had more guts and wanted it more.

“One of our team goals was to prove last year was no fluke. I think we may have already done that. When we pulled out of Reynolds last year, we were 9-1. When we left this year, we were 7-1. Last year Reynolds handed us our only regular-season loss over there. This year we got that one back.”