Linker, Wildcats move into round 2
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Veteran East Chapel Hill boys’ tennis coach Lindsey Linker picked up right where she left off last spring, winning a state 4-A dual-team tournament opener Tuesday, after sitting out the girls’ season in the fall by state fiat.
PAC-6 champion East Chapel Hill swept Greater Neuse River Conference runner-up Garner 9-0 on Tuesday.
Linker had retired from the classroom at the end of the 2011-12 school year and had to leave the ECH program for six months, missing a girls’ state playoff run.
But now the veteran of some three decades on the sidelines, first at Chapel Hill High and now ECH, is back at it. She isn’t in the classroom anymore, but she’s enjoying every bit of the tennis action from her tall director’s chair overlooking all six courts.
“I missed the kids, missed the tennis, but most of all I missed my ‘Peeps,’” Linker said — her “Peeps” being her former fellow health and physical education department faculty members.
ECH (14-5), the state’s No. 5-ranked 4-A program, smoked the Trojans (12-9) in a match that actually should have ended when No. 5 singles player Ondrej Drobny walked off the court with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Joseph Graham, giving the Wildcats a 5-0 lead in the best-of-nine points team showdown.
But because both teams have entries in Friday’s state individual tennis tournament, Linker and Garner coach Joe Walls agreed beforehand to play the three scheduled doubles matches — “We need to get the work in,” Walls said.
Linker — who lost No. 3 singles player Drew Clary, who was also the No. 1 doubles partner of singles ace Max Smith, to shoulder surgery recently — had to shuffle her lineup even more as No. 2 singles player Jack Devonport sat out singles competition, moving everyone but Smith up a notch on the singles ladder and adding Robert Bond to the lineup at No. 6.
Bond came through with a 6-0, 6-0 win and the Nos. 2-5 players lost a total of three games, two of them by Jeff George at No. 2 in a 6-0, 6-2 win. Connor Lutz won 6-0 6-0 at No. 3, freshman Thomas Wang won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4.
Smith, the PAC-6 individual champion, won 6-1, 6-1.
“I was pleased with our intensity and focus,” Linker said. “We’ll need that as we move along. Bottom line, we got the job done.”
In doubles, Devonport and George won 10-1 at No. 1, Smith (playing now at No. 2) and Thomas Wang won 10-0 and Lutz and Drobny won 10-2 at No. 3.
The Wildcats move on to a second-round match next Tuesday at Tri-Nine No. 1 seed Cary Green Hope (18-1), a 6-0 first-round winner over Fayetteville Jack Britt. Green Hope got the homecourt edge over fellow No. 1 seed ECH by virtue of a predetermined conference priority seeding that rotates year to year.