Knights boys tennis shines in tournament
North Lincoln High’s boys tennis team saved its best efforts for when the Knights needed them most.
The Knights entered the first day of the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference tournament Tuesday, April 24 hoping to have one or two players advance to the finals on April 25 and secure spots in postseason play.
Led by third-seeded Brendan D’Amato’s 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 upset of second-seeded Justin Tadlock from East Lincoln in the singles semifinal, the Knights sent all six players to the tournament’s second day.
D’Amato trailed Tadlock 0-3 in the second set when he caught fire and won the final 12 games to take the match.
“I compared it to ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’” North Lincoln coach Jay Thomson said.
“I told him to move up to the net and attack more (late in the second set). From there, he just changed his approach, and it worked out well.”
D’Amato knocked off West Lincoln’s Hunter Green 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.
The tournament’s biggest singles upset – as well as its biggest comeback – came courtesy of the Knights.
North Lincoln’s unseeded Justin
Sherwood began the tournament with a surprising 6-3, 6-4 upset of fourth-seeded Cory Cook from West Lincoln.
Sherwood needed a win in the third-place match to advance to the Class 2A West individual regional tournament at Brevard College on May 4.
Results from the second day of the tournament were unavailable at press time.
D’Amato’s semifinal victory guaranteed him a berth in the regional tournament. D’Amato said the Knights’ charge through the early stages of the conference tournament showed how well the team can play under pressure.
“I don’t really think I was surprised,” D’Amato said. “Each of us had our own expectations, but I believe we all thought we could advance to regionals.”
The Knights’ Evan Peaire and Brian Lehman assured themselves a spot alongside D’Amato in the West regional, when Peaire and Lehman teamed up for a 6-2, 6-2 semifinal doubles victory over Lincolnton’s D.J. Poston and Andrew Cromer.
Peaire and Lehman advanced to the finals thanks to the win over Poston and Cromer and a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over West Lincoln’s Luke Webb and Aydan Heavner in the first round.
The Knights’ success in doubles play was long overdue, Peaire said. They’ve made improvements since the start of the season.
“It’s great for our team to have kids advance, singles or doubles,” Thomson said.
“That was the goal at the start of the year: to get kids in regionals. It’s a tough road when you get to regionals, but when you advance, you’ve (got a shot).”