Close losses dogging tennis team

Published 9:10 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Although Davie’s tennis team came up just short against Reagan and Mt. Tabor, coach Shane Nixon is proud of the heart the young guys are showing. The first-year starters have been pressed into the lineup because of injuries to two starters.

“Guys who are stepping up for us are playing hard,” Nixon said. “Zach Hill, Slade Keaton and Hayden Key, those are two freshmen and a sophomore who probably didn’t expect to play this year and they are playing in meaningful matches. They are going out there when they know we need them to win, usually against players better than them. I’m really proud of those guys.”

Reagan 5, Davie 4

This battle on March 28 wasn’t decided until the end after the teams split singles.

Burke Rosenbaum (6-0, 6-0), C Crenshaw (6-3, 6-2) and Bryce Bailey (6-2, 7-5) gave Davie three wins in singles. Then Rosenbaum/Crenshaw steamrolled 8-0 at No. 1 doubles.

The visiting Raiders, though, took the other two doubles to beat Davie for the second time in a week. The score was 6-3 on March 22.

“Burke, C and Bryce are just playing amazing tennis,” Nixon said. “C got beat by the same guy at Reagan and came back and made sure it wasn’t close today.”

Tabor 5, Davie 4

Again, the War Eagles fell by a thin margin, this time to visiting Mt. Tabor on March 30. It was a payback win for the Spartans, who lost 5-4 to Davie earlier.

The War Eagles are 7-4 overall and 6-4 in the Central Piedmont Conference. But four of the verdicts have been 5-4, with Davie coming up on the short end of three of those.

“These 5-4 losses are not a reflection of my kids’ guts and heart,” Nixon said. “They gave it everything. These losses have to be on me. I’ve got to do better getting us ready to play. Other coaches are using funky lineups, all legal mind you, but really mixing things up. With injuries, we simply don’t have that luxury, and that is on me for not having guys ready to step in. I think the good news is that young guys are getting real minutes, which will make us better down the line.”

The match saw a mammoth streak come to an end. Rosenbaum, a junior, was 24-0 in the CPC for his career going into this match. An overnight sensation at No. 1 singles the day he arrived in 2020, he had won 286 of 325 games, including a 6-2, 6-2 win over Tabor’s Adam Cartwright on March 7.

But Cartwright evened the score 7-5, 6-0. Now Rosenbaum is 31-3 in his career, the other two losses coming against Grimsley and Hough during his freshman year.

“He is such a great teammate, a wonderful competitor and a leader,” Nixon said. “Maybe you’d think on the occasion of his first (CPC) loss, I’d find something to nitpick. Well, you’d be wrong. For my money, he is still the best player in the CPC and has been since the day he walked in the door. I’d rather have Burke as my one than anybody else. And oh by the way, after a tough loss against a great player, he goes out and wins doubles.”

Crenshaw (3-6, 6-2, 10-3) pulled off a comeback win at No. 2. Bailey kept his foot on the gas at No. 3, winning 6-2, 6-1. And Aidan Froelich picked up a clutch win at No. 6 (6-4, 6-3). The winning score for Rosenbaum/Crenshaw was 8-4.

“C is a shot-maker who plays with emotion,” he said. “He drives the rest of our guys with his great play and guttural screams. Bryce is a sneaky good player. No one thing jumps off the page when you see him play. He doesn’t have the big serve. He doesn’t get to the net a ton. But then you look up and he’s up 4-1. He plays with a confidence that makes me happy. Aidan got us a huge win. He played so well and atoned for losing over there.”

The War Eagles just couldn’t find that fifth win, resulting in their first back-to-back CPC losses since facing Reagan on consecutive days in April of 2019.

“This was a tough loss – really tough,” Nixon said. “I feel like we are better than we played, but then I look at the sheet and can’t figure out where another win should have come from. I’ll take my odds at two doubles. Bryce and Aidan were up 7-6 with Bryce serving. They played well and just couldn’t close it out (in 9-7 defeat). Don’t hear that as me saying somehow it was that twosome’s fault. It wasn’t. We just needed one more win and it was not there.”

Notes: The last time Davie dropped consecutive CPC matches to different opponents was Reynolds/West Forsyth in March of 2016. … No. 3 Bailey is still unbeaten at 11-0. Rosenbaum and Crenshaw are both 10-1. Froelich is 7-4 at 5-6. Rosenbaum/Crenshaw are 10-0 at No. 1 doubles.