BURLINGTON — The sport was tennis, but the celebration wouldn’t have been out of place on a basketball court.
Wakefield freshman Blake Carter was engulfed by teammates racing onto the court after he won a tiebreaker to clinch the Wolverines’ N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state dual-team tennis title Saturday at the Burlington Tennis Center.
“That was a great feeling to celebrate as a team,” No. 1 singles Bo Boyden said.
Wakefield (23-0) finished an unbeaten season with a 5-0 win against Winston-Salem Reynolds (22-2) but the singles matches were tightly contested.
Boyden and No. 2 singles Jensen Martin battled from behind to win while Carter was grinding out his tiebreaker. At that point, two or three of the matches could have gone Reynolds’ way to force doubles.
“Anything can happen in doubles,” Wakefield coach Ken Stewart said.
But Boyden scored the fourth team point when he rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the first set to beat Bennett Crane, 6-4, 6-2.
When Boyden won, he leaped as if on center court at Wimbledon, but then fell to the court with a cramp. When he was told about Carter’s match on the other side of the bleachers, he limped over to provide support.
Moments later, Carter clinched his 6-3, 2-6, 14-12 victory. Boyden was one of the first ones to join the huddle.
“I got a shot of adrenalin and ran out there,” he said.
Wakefield’s first state title in boys’ tennis capped a three-year program rise that began when Boyden and Martin entered as freshmen in 2012. Phil Lauture, who won at No. 3 against John Kretzchmar 6-1, 6-0, was next. Two more freshmen arrived this year – Carter and Nico Grewe, the latter a 6-0, 6-0 winner at No. 6 against Carter Lievens.
“We had a lot of talent, but Coach Stewart did a lot with this team,” Boyden said. “He deserves a lot of the credit.”
Meanwhile, senior Andrew Belonga, who won at No. 5 against Nick Rowell 6-3, 6-3, tumbled from No. 1 singles as a freshman to No. 3 as a sophomore and junior and finally No. 5.
“You’re supposed to move up, but I’m not complaining,” said Belonga with a grin. “I did get better each year.”
Martin had fallen behind 4-1 to Jack Riazzi at No. 2 singles, but he rallied to win 7-5 and led 5-4 when the match was discontinued following Carter’s decisive point.
“This was a great group of guys who played with a lot of passion,” Stewart said. “We had an influx of talent, but I told them will can beat talent. These guys always practiced and played hard.”