GRANITE QUARRY — The East Rowan boys tennis team had their season end Monday.
But not without a fight.
Weddington defeated East 7-2 in the third round of the state 3A playoffs but the Mustangs left the court feeling fulfilled after a out-of-nowhere season. East made the third round of the playoffs and won the North Piedmont Conference. At times, the Mustangs surpassed their own expectations of their own coach.
Despite the loss, they did exactly that Monday. East ended the year 14-4.
“I will admit I set my expectations too low for the match,” East coach Ainsley Kovanda said. “It got started and I was like ‘holy cow, we’re playing awesome. We’re in this.’”
East took the No. 5 and 6 singles matches with Jeremy Price’s battle with Derek Klingerman at No. 4 the last to finish. Price took Klingerman to a tiebreaker before falling 10-7 in the third set. The decision allowed Warriors, who were awarded a wild card spot, to take a 4-2 lead into doubles play.
“It’s a real big advantage to get four singles wins instead of three,” Weddington coach Les Kolman said. “East Rowan was really fighting and scraping and played real hard. I think we were lucky to pull it out like we did.”
Weddington (14-4) beat its third-straight No. 1 seed on the road. The Warriors ran through the first three singles matches to establish control and advance to take on Charlotte Catholic.
Weddington No. 1 singles player Steven Denny and No. 2 Sahil Vasa played in the individual state tournament before losing in the semifinals.
Denny defeated Emerson 6-1, 6-1.
“I played good, he’s just a really good player,” said Emerson, who ended the year 10-8.
“There’s not anybody on the team more passionate about the game of tennis than Ike,” Kovanda said.
Vasa topped Justin Allen 7-5, 6-3. At No. 3 Jackson Plyler defeated Chance Brown 6-3, 6-1.
East’s Evan Rogers came back from falling 6-0 in the opening set to Everett Haugh at No. 5. Rogers won the second set 6-3 before taking a back-and-forth tiebreaker 14-12.
“I started getting my shots,” Rogers said. “I wasn’t even playing in the first set.”
East’s Cameron Thomas beat Charles Wenzel 6-4, 7-5 at No. 6.
“I felt I played pretty well,” Thomas said. “I could have done better with my serves, but a win’s a win.”
East entered doubles needing to sweep all three matches to win but the Warriors took all three. Denny/Vasa, Plyler/Klingerman and Tyler Burke/Haugh team up for victories.
East finishes the year without any seniors and with contributions from freshman like Brown and Freeman to draw from in the coming years.
“I’m incredibly proud of them,” said Kovanda, a first-year coach. “When the match was over I told the guys to be proud of the way they played today and every single one of them said yes so you got to be happy with that.”