A tornado apparently was whirring somewhere beyond Duke University’s indoor tennis facility, and the twister inside was Cardinal Gibbons High School blowing past Chapel Hill 6-0 in the dual-team semifinals of the 3-A tennis playoffs.
East Regional champion Cardinal Gibbons, a private school in Raleigh, will play for another state championship on Saturday at Burlington Tennis Center.
“They’re just really good,” Chapel Hill coach Neil Alderman said. “They’ve won seven out of the last eight state titles.”
Alderman said Cardinal Gibbons is the only team he’s lost to in the playoffs.
This season’s Chapel Hill squad was the best edition of the Tigers in quite some time, Alderman said, but Chapel Hill’s best couldn’t handle what Cardinal Gibbons brought to the court.
Christofer Chang was Chapel Hill’s No. 1 player, and Robert Kelly, the Crusaders’ No. 1 — who won the state 3-A individual singles championship a week ago — beat him 6-3, 6-1.
“Overall, I played really well. Robert’s, obviously, a very good player,” Chang said. “My main concern was service return, because his serve is always so accurate and fast, and service return has always been one of the weakest parts of my game.”
Chang, a senior, said he plans to play tennis as a walk-on at Washington and Lee in Lexington, Virginia.
Kelly, a senior who has won two straight state 3-A singles titles, will play tennis at North Carolina, Cardinal Gibbons coach Andrew Tuttle said.
Rain forced the move of the match from Cardinal Gibbons to Duke's indoor tennis facility. The matches were underway when a tornado warning forced players off the courts and into lower-level bathrooms with family members and fans.
When the tornado threat was lifted, the matches resumed and the Crusaders kept taming the Tigers.
“It’s too bad it ended today,” Alderman said. “We’re at a disadvantage because we can only pull from a small area, whereas Gibbons pulls from a 25-mile radius. That’s difficult to compete against. Their No. 1 player is from Chapel Hill. Their No. 3 player is from Durham. Their No. 4 player is from Orange County.”
Cardinal Gibbons 6, Chapel Hill 0
SINGLES — Robert Kelly (CG) def. Chris Chang 6-3, 6-1; Matt Galush (CG) def. Bryan Zhang 6-3, 6-3; Jim Mantyh (CG) def. Ryan Bradley 6-4, 6-3; Brody Chapman (CG) def. Jared Weber 6-3, 6-3; Kyler Zadell (CG) def. David Mirzoyan 6-2, 6-1; Kyle Fitzgerald (CG) def. Lucas Prata 6-2, 6-3.
Doubles were not contested by coaches' decision since match had been decided in singles round.
Records — Cardinal Gibbons 24-4, Chapel Hill 17-5.