Carrboro headed to state final
With three of the state’s top four 2-A singles players on side-by-side courts, Wednesday’s state dual-team tournament semifinals between Carrboro and visiting Cedar Ridge figured to be a war.
It might have been a battle, with Cedar Ridge players putting it all on the line, but in the end, 20-1 Carrboro’s 5-0 whitewash in the teams’ third meeting of the season was overwhelming. It lifted the East champion Jaguars into Saturday’s state 2-A championship match.
“We’re a pretty good team — they’re a very good team,” Cedar Ridge coach Eric Rodgman said as the match neared completion and the Red Wolves (18-4) trailed 4-0.
Carrboro coach Jon Noyes had seen too much of Cedar Ridge’s top players to take anything for granted and watched as state individual tournament semifinalists Max Fritsch of Carrboro and Zac Marion of Cedar Ridge went at it on court No. 1.
“These guys have really gone at it, but Max has won the three times they’ve played,” Noyes said, perhaps recalling Fritsch’s 7-6, 6-7 (14-12) tiebreaker win over Marion earlier this season.
That was a match that went 2-1/2 hours and actually extended through the playing of the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles matches. Carrboro won that team meeting 8-0, according to Rodgman, with No. 1 doubles never being played because Fritsch and Marion were on those teams. In the other regular-season meeting between the Carolina 12 1-A/2-A Conference rivals, Carrboro won 7-2.
On Wednesday they played the match that counted. With Carrboro’s No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 singles players — Brian Freiburghouse, Aaron Hiller, Jake Zinn and Paul Flournoy — already sitting down after posting straight-set wins, Fritsch and Marion played a match that lasted about an hour and forty minutes, Fritsch coming away with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Game, set, match.
By coaches decision, the No. 3 singles match between Carrboro’s Tanner Roach and Cedar Ridge’s Erik Lutz was immediately suspended. Lutz had won the first set 7-5, but trailed 4-1 in the second.
Freiburghouse, who lost in the state 2-A individual finals to Shelby star Marshall Parker on Saturday after ousting Marion in the state semifinals, put away Cedar Ridge’s Isaac Lutz 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2. Hiller beat Brandon Phares 6-2, 6-3 at No. 4, Zinn bested Ryan Hudson 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5 and Paul Flournoy beat Forrest Heath 6-0, 6-2 at No. 6.
Next up for Carrboro is the state 2-A championship set for Saturday — the time will be announced later — at the Burlington Tennis Center. The contest will be a rematch of last year’s championship, won by Shelby 5-1.
Carrboro, which features a lineup of five underclassmen — the lone senior is Roach — is probably better than it was last year if only because Fritsch, who lost in a tiebreaker to then-Shelby No. 1 Ray Webb Parker, is a year older and Freiburghouse, a freshman, is on the roster.
But if Carrboro might be better, Shelby (20-0) certainly is. Parker, whose older brother William plays singles for UNC Chapel Hill, is no longer Shelby’s No. 1 player. He’s No. 2 this time around because little brother Marshall — yes, the state champion — has supplanted him at the top spot.
But Noyes is optimistic. “It’s 50-50,” Noyes said of his team’s chances. “We’ve got a good chance. Shelby’s not bulletproof by any means.”
NOTES — With Cedar Ridge moving to the 3-A ranks in the fall and Carrboro remaining at 2-A, Wednesday’s match was the last between the two as conference rivals. But any thought that it might have been the last meeting between the two was at least put into doubt after the match by Carrboro athletic director April Ross. “I hope we can play you again next year,” Ross said prior to the post-match ceremony at which Carrboro was presented its East Region championship trophy and Cedar Ridge the runner-up trophy.