Sophomores come up big for tennis team

Published 12:52 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Considering the Davie tennis team entered the season with more questions than answers, its 2-0 start – both in the Central Piedmont Conference, no less – was fairly stunning.

Not only did the War Eagles open the season with a 6-3 home win over Reynolds on Feb. 28, they clinched the decision in singles.

C Crenshaw and his total of 26 wins were lost to graduation (he went 8-1 in singles and 18-2 in doubles with cousin Burke Rosenbaum). On top of that, Jack Williams, Zach Hill, Hayden Key, Slade Keaton and Grayson Busse came in with a combined career record of 11-14.

But there is still talent on the roster. To no one’s surprise, Rosenbaum and Bryce Bailey stomped their opponents at the Nos. 1-2 seeds. But what made the win over Reynolds possible was the new starters being up for the task.

Seniors Rosenbaum and Bailey both won 6-0, 6-0 at the top of the lineup. Then came three wins from three sophomores – Hill 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3, Key 6-1, 6-4 at No. 4 and Sean Lane 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5.

“Expectation is both a wonderful and difficult thing,” ninth-year coach Shane Nixon said. “My top two live with it every time we play. They are expected to win. But to beat a really good one and two from Reynolds in 6-0, 6-0 fashion and then be on the court for about 15 minutes before finishing off the No. 1 doubles? I am simply not sure I thought they could surpass the high expectations – and yet they did.

“How about my sophomore class? Wins from Zach, Hayden and Sean to go along with a real battle at six from Grayson (in 7-6, 7-5 defeat)? Wow. What a start for that group.”

Rosenbaum/Bailey tacked on the sixth win of the day, 8-0, at No. 1 doubles.

“To see all those 6-0s and 6-1s gives me some confidence that we can have a good year,” Nixon said.

Davie 9, EF 0

One day later at East Forsyth, Davie handled business in pedal-to-the-metal style.

The singles wins: Rosenbaum 6-0, 6-0; Bailey 6-0, 6-0; Hill 6-3, 6-2; Key 6-2, 6-2; Lane 6-0, 6-3; and Busse 6-4, 6-2. Completing the shutout in doubles were Rosenbaum/Bailey 8-2, Key/Slade Keaton 6-4 and Lane/Jack Williams 8-0.

“When you factor in that we’ve beaten two CPC teams, that makes it even better,” Nixon said. “This group has come through. Since we’ve played a ton of sophomores so far, the 2-0 start is all we could have hoped for.

“Burke is the two-time defending CPC Player of the Year, and he is playing like it. Bryce is easily one of the most improved players in the league and is playing like a guy who has something to prove. And what I’m happier about is that they seem to be finding their groove as a doubles team. The sky is the limit for them.”

Sophomores Hill, Key, Lee and Busse have seemingly turned a corner overnight.

“Zach and Hayden lead what is shaping up to be a good sophomore class,” he said. “Zach’s style is unorthodox, but he finds a way to stay in points. Hayden is starting to understand how good he can be. Sean might be the most pleasant surprise of the season so far. Coach Terri Eanes calls him ‘the machine’ because he just goes out and gets every ball. Grayson got off to a less-than-stellar start against Reynolds, but then showed why I have confidence in him by rebounding beautifully at East.”

And then: “Slade, partnered with Hayden, has really made a statement. And so has Jack while playing with Sean.”

Notes: The War Eagles, who went 10-5 overall and 8-5 in the CPC last year, have rattled off 12 straight winning seasons. Their last losing season was 2005. … Davie has outscored Reynolds 72-9 during a 10-match winning streak in the series. … Davie has three straight 9-0 wins over East.