Unicorns gun down Voyager in tennis playoffs
Top-seeded N.C. School of Science and Mathematics put away Voyager 5-1 during a third-round match in the state 1-A dual-team tennis playoffs at Jordan on Monday.
NCSSM was without its No. 2 player and its No. 4 player showed up late after finishing an exam, but Voyager, a wildcard entry, just didn’t have the horses to keep up with the Unicorns.
“We’re traditionally very deep,” NCSSM coach Richard McClenny said.
Harrison Stone, Voyager’s top player, held his own against Jin Kang, who needed a third-set tiebreaker to get take a 4-6, 6-4, 10-4 win.
“I’ve played this guy before, and he beat me the first time around, so I knew what to expect,” Kang said about Stone. “The first time, it was on clay and I’m not so good on clay.
“I knew that he had a weak backhand, so I just kept attacking his backhand. When he gave a short one, I would approach and then I’d usually be set up for an easy volley.”
Stone said he is at his best when his power game is working, and it just wasn’t on against Kang.
“I kind of held off on my strokes a little bit, and it came back to bite me in the butt,” Stone said. “He’s very athletic, and he can get to a lot of balls. Even if you do hit a hard shot, he’s the type of player that’s going to get to the ball and make sure he gets it back.”
Voyager practices and plays matches at Treyburn Country Club, which has clay courts. Balls bounce less predictably on clay, as opposed to Jordan’s hard courts offering better reads, Kang said, adding that it is harder for him to get his feet right on clay.
“I just don’t know how to slide,” Kang said, turning his attention to his shoes that he said were strapped with five layers of tape necessitated by a lot of back and forth on the tennis courts. “You can see my shoes — sliding is a big part of my game.
“I try to slide, but I don’t do it the right way.”
McClenny doesn’t have the luxury of developing his players the way other high school coaches do. Students arrive at NCSSM, a public boarding school that is highly regarded academically, when they are juniors.
“Smart kids are good tennis players, and the kids work hard when they get on campus,” McClenny said.
Voyager athletics director Mike Germino credited the Unicorns.
“They have a tradition-rich high school tennis program, and they deserve a lot of credit to do what they do year after year,” Germino said. “They get new kids enrolling every year from all over the state, and they just reload. It is a quality program and very well-coached.”
Voyager Academy, a public charter school that opened in 2007, fielded a tennis team for just the second year.
“It is truly a great accomplishment for our kids to get as far as we did this season,” Germino said. “We had six total kids on the team, and they were well-coached and worked hard to accomplish all that they did. Credit goes to our coach, Kyle Thorsten, and the kids for working hard each and every day to become better tennis players.”
NCSSM 5, Voyager 1
Jin Kang (NCSSM) d. Harrison Stone 4-6, 6-4, 10-4; Josh Mu (NCSSM) d. Coy Cameron 6-0, 6-2; Abhay Qureshi (NCSSM) d. Christian Quick 6-4, 6-3; Russell Aryeetey (NCSSM) d. Wesley Hickerson 5-7, 6-1, 10-6; Charlie Stone (V) d. Vishesh Verma 1-6, 6-4, 10-7; Shouri Gottiparthi (NCSSM) d. Chris Hambleton 6-1, 6-0.