The high school boys’ tennis season gets underway this weekend at the annual Port City Invitational, which will be held at the home court of each Wilmington team as part of the two-day round robin-style tournament.
Action gets underway at 4 p.m. Friday, and will continue at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
After getting an early look at most of the teams throughout the Mideastern Conference thanks to the efforts of Coaches Beau Summersill, Michael Bowen and Kirk Schmidt, the defending league champion New Hanover Wildcats are preseason favorites. They’re looking to make another run inside the division, thanks to an experienced group of returners.
New Hanover is senior heavy in their top six players. Reigning Mideastern Conference Co-Player of the Year Marshall Waren tops the list. Taylor Gaines and Jack Cooper expect to contribute in a big way for Schmidt as the team to beat following last season’s unbeaten mark inside league competition.
First-Team All-Conference player Patrick Senior and second-teamer Lucas McClatchy provide plenty of depth for a team that advanced to the third round of the dual-team 4A playoffs last year. Freshman Wesley Gaines could also work his way into the top six, rounding out a strong group for the Wildcats.
Bowen returns for his 11th season as head coach at Hoggard, with seven letter winners returning from last year’s team that finished 11-4 overall and 10-2 in conference. Bowen has a career mark of 128-39, and was named North Carolina High School Tennis Coach of the Year during the United States Tennis Association’s North Carolina affiliate’s annual banquet in late January.
While the Vikings expect to be a balanced group from top to bottom, Hoggard lost its top player from one year ago, who is now competing at the college level.
All-Conference performers Eddie Janosko, Dom Scialabba and Miles Hirchak have to fill the void among the top three singles players, while Cadman Stayers, Andrew Haskins and Yue Zhang look to provide stability to the lineup.
Under the direction of Beau Summersill, Laney grabbed its first conference title during the fall season within the girls division. Summersill, well known for his halftime proposal last year, believes he has a team in place this spring to compete towards the top of the division.
With just one senior on the team, the Bucs will need its underclassmen to step up in a big way as the supporting cast. Zack Taffer has been tabbed as Laney’s number one player, with Tim Daily, Luke Durham, Jalen Moore, Thomas Pirkey and Brandon McNeill rounding out the six singles positions.
Port City Invitational schedule
Friday, March 4 at 4 p.m. Hoggard vs. Pinecrest; Laney vs. Summerville; New Hanover vs. Cardinal Gibbons
Saturday, March 5 at 9 a.m. Hoggard vs. Cardinal Gibbons; Laney vs. Pinecrest; New Hanover vs. Summerville
Saturday, March 5 at 2p.m. Hoggard vs. Summerville; Laney vs. Cardinal Gibbons; New Hanover vs. Pinecrest