War Eagle tennis team taking care of business

Published 1:23 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

Can Davie’s tennis team pull off the impossible and win the 2024 Central Piedmont Conference championship with so many big names from the recent past gone? We won’t know for several weeks, but the early matches have definitely not been fair fights.

At East Forsyth on March 4, the War Eagles took care of business in a big way, 6-2. One meaningless match was scratched because of darkness.

Hayden Key (6-3, 6-0 at three), Brady Carter (6-0, 6-0 at four), Jackson Hepler (6-3, 6-1 at five) and Barrett Taylor (6-0, 6-1 at six) were singles winners as Davie clinched a 2-0 mark in the CPC before winning two doubles (Key/Hepler and Carter/Max Rappaport both won 8-1).

“(Carter’s) style is a bit unusual,” coach Shane Nixon said. “He slices and cuts the call more than most kids at this level. He is on a tear. Max is a great athlete with a huge wingspan. (Key and Taylor)  are playing that kind of rock-solid tennis our program is built on. Hayden is a lefty and he gets a few points every match it seems when his opponent just isn’t used to that being a forehand side. To Hayden’s credit, he is more than capitalizing. Barrett has stepped into the six role and is really anchoring the bottom of our lineup. Jackson is taking me on a roller-coaster ride. I say that but in reality he is also 2-0 in singles, so the results are there. Jackson has had trouble getting started both matches, but then when he does, he pulls away. He and Hayden are figuring out doubles together as well.”

Davie 8, Forbush 1

Three days later in a home nonconference match, Davie had a predictably easy win.

Zach Hill (8-0 at one), Key (8-1 at three), Carter (8-0 at four), Hepler (8-1 at five) and Taylor (8-0 at six) sealed Davie’s 3-0 start in singles. Then Busse/Key, Carter/Hepler and Jonah Almond/Owen Tomlinson padded the margin with lopsided victories in doubles.

“Zach played about as well as he could,” Nixon said. “He is really stepping into his role on this team.”

Key, Carter, Hepler and Taylor are all 3-0 on the season at the 3-4-5-6 spots.

“This doesn’t look like a ‘rebuilding’ start,” he said. “There is a ton of tennis to be played, and our schedule ramps up from here on, but right now I like where we are. (3-0) is amazing. I told the guys the competition is about to ratchet up a notch; I think they heard me. I think we are ready for the (Reagan) Raiders.”

Notes: According to the North Carolina High School Tennis Association, Nixon (98-41 in 10 years) is the No. 11 active winner in the state. Interestingly enough, Reagan’s Scott Larson is in the top 10 in career victories.