Reagan seizes first with 5-4 tennis win
By Brian Pitts
Although Davie’s boys tennis team fell from the unbeatens last week, there’s no reason for despair.
A 5-4 setback at Reagan could have gone either way. A 6-3 loss to Grimsley in a home nonconference match was a very good team simply losing to a stronger team. The battle scars from March 29-30 should serve Davie well down the road.
The showdown at Reagan determined sole possession of first place in the Central Piedmont Conference. The unbeaten Raiders rose to 4-0 in the league, while Davie slipped to 4-1.
“For several years it has been us and Reagan at the top of the CPC,” coach Shane Nixon said. “While West Forsyth and East Forsyth both are getting much better, right now it is still a two-team race.”
Last year it was Davie celebrating a 5-4 decision, a triumph that stopped Reagan’s 28-match winning streak in the CPC and ended Reagan’s four-match winning streak over Davie. This time Reagan was the narrow victor.
“My guys wanted this one, and we probably put a little too much pressure on ourselves,” Nixon said. “That is completely on me, not the guys. I have to do a better job of working us through those things.”
No. 1 seed Burke Rosenbaum (6-0, 6-1) and No. 4 Jack Nixon (6-0, 6-3) were convincing winners. But No. 2 Luke Stillson, No. 3 C Crenshaw and No. 5 Cren Rosenbaum suffered their first losses in 2021, and Bryce Bailey fell at No. 6.
During the Stillson/Crenshaw singles matches, Davie was thinking, “If we win one of these, we win the match.” They didn’t, and Davie didn’t. But those two victorious Raiders had to walk tightropes to prevail. Stillson’s scores were 6-7, 6-3 (3-10); Crenshaw’s were 6-7, 4-6. They were oh so close.
“We had chances,” Nixon said. “Luke lost (in a tiebreaker). C was in his match to the very end. If we get either one of those, obviously it’s a different match.”
Down 4-2, Davie had to sweep doubles. B. Rosenbaum/Crenshaw won 8-4 at No. 1 and Stillson/Nixon won 8-1 at No. 2. But C. Rosenbaum/Bailey fell short 8-5 at No. 3.
The good news: There will be a rematch at Davie. An eventual tie for first place is definitely a possibility.
“I really feel like it might be a much different story in two weeks when they come to Davie County,” Nixon said. “I assure you the guys and I are going to work to make it so.”
Grimsley 6, Davie 3
Davie hosted a powerhouse outside of conference play on March 30, and it made a very respectable showing in defeat.
“The Whirlies are consistently one of the best 4-A teams in the state,” Nixon said. “They usually go multiple rounds in the dual team; they have guys who go far in the individual championship meets. We wanted to challenge ourselves this year, so we worked hard to get Grimsley on the schedule.
“I don’t do moral victories, but today felt different. We stepped up in competition and made it a dogfight. We (lost a tiebreaker) that could have made it 3-3 after singles. This isn’t a win, but I am proud of how we played and I know we got better today.”
The coach heaped praise on Stillson, who won 6-2, 6-3 over senior Max Goetz, and Bailey, who rolled 6-3, 6-1.
“Luke is the most improved player I’ve ever had from Year 1 to Year 4,” Nixon said. “The guy he beat today is as good a No. 2 as any you will find in North Carolina.
“If Luke is the most improved player over four years, Bryce might be making the biggest strides in the season. What a win today.”
Sophomore B. Rosenbaum came in with a 12-0 career record, but the streak ended against a scary good opponent at No. 1 – junior Carl Gedlitschka.
“Their No. 1 player is as good a high school tennis player as you’ll see at this level,” Nixon said. “Burke stayed in there with him.”
After dropping the first set 6-1, Crenshaw gave it a valiant effort, taking the second set 7-6 before losing by an eyelash in the tiebreaker, 13-11.
“C, Jack and Cren all played tough opponents and played them well – but couldn’t quite get over the hump,” Nixon said.
Davie had one win in doubles as Stillson/Nixon dominated 8-1.
Notes: The Whirlies improved to 3-2. Their losses were 5-4 to Northwest Guilford and 7-2 to Cardinal Gibbons. … Davie entered spring break with a 5-2 overall record. … Davie’s individual singles records: B. Rosenbaum 6-1, Stillson 6-1, Crenshaw 5-2, Nixon 6-1, C. Rosenbaum 5-2 and Bailey 5-2. In doubles, B. Rosenbaum/Crenshaw are 5-1 at No. 1 and Stillson/Nixon are 4-0 at No. 2.