High school tennis: South could have made some noise

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 26, 2020

South Rowan boys tennis

Coach: Frank Caraccio (4th season)

2019 record: 8-10 overall, 8-10 Central Carolina Conference (6th place in 10-team league)

2020 record: 4-1

Seniors: Austin Peacock, Matthew Correll

By Mike London

LANDIS — South Rowan boys tennis coach Frank Caraccio grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., a large city known for snow, snow plows, snow blowers, snow drifts — and more snow.

Syracuse averages 104 inches of snowfall per year.

“When I was 21, I was invited as a guest to Thanksgiving dinner in the Carolinas, and it was 70 degrees and sunny,” Caraccio said. “I couldn’t believe it. Thanksgiving — and 70 degrees! That convinced me I was never going back to Syracuse. I moved to Chapel Hill.”

Carracio liked Chapel Hill.

“Never got into the school there, but I did like the town,” he said. “I stuck around.”

Eventually, the Caraccios settled in China Grove. Frank’s son, Frankie, did a good job for South Rowan’s football team. A receiver mostly, Frankie made some of the biggest plays in a 2017 win over West Davidson that ended a 10-game South losing streak. Frankie was a master as the middle man on South’s famed hitch-and-pitch play.

South hasn’t enjoyed a great deal of recent tennis success. When the coach didn’t last through the 2017 season — Caraccio volunteered his services.

“My wife found out the tennis team needed a coach and encouraged me to take a shot,” Caraccio said. “I had afternoons free and I do like to play tennis. That first year was like 1-15. Then it was 6-12. Then 8-10 last year. Two guys (seniors Austin Peacock and Matthew Correll) were with me from the start. This season they were our top two seeds.”

Peacock made the All-CCC team in 2019, the first All-CCC tennis player South has had since it moved to the 2A ranks.

South had gotten off to a surprising start in 2020 — 4-1 — including wins over North Davidson and East Davidson in the CCC. South also had hotly contested county wins against West Rowan and East Rowan. The only loss was to Ledford, one of the CCC’s best programs.

South had four sophomores piling up victories behind Peacock and Correll. The sophs were Joey Caraccio (the coach’s son), Noah Steedley, Richard Gould and Noah King. That sophomore class will be the foundation of competitive South teams in 2021 and 2022.

“We only have four courts at South, but we’d worked out a pretty good system for practices,” Coach Caraccio said. “Our guys do a lot of drills. I’m not a high-stress guy, I’ve told them to focus on improvement, not results, that wins would be a by-product of improvement. This season we were starting to get those wins, so it was disappointing when everything stopped. We were looking pretty good. This was going to be the best tennis season South has had in a long time. There were schools who have been beating us that we were looking forward to playing.”

Caraccio said the highlight of the shortened season came in the win against East Rowan. Peacock and Correll both lost in singles, but they came back to win their No. 1 doubles match.

“That doubles match turned out to be their last match in high school,” Caraccio said. “They played very well and they won. I’m so happy for them.”