They came close, but no state championship this year for the Lincoln Charter boys tennis team. They got to the semi-finals, but fell to Pine Lake Prep 5-2 on Wednesday (May 11th).
Jacob Reis had to play what most agree is the best tennis player in 2A in the state. Tyler Ramanata of Pine Lake Prep did what he usually does, overpowering Reis 6-1, 6-0. That was expected. For the Eagles to have a chance, others had to win their matches.
Connor Milligan, whose only singles loss this season was in the NCHSAA individual championship series, beat the Pride's Dylan Patel in a close match with split sets. Ben Shelton came close in a split set match with PLP's Alex Sieni.
Grayson Upchurch won 6-3, 6-4 over Felix Kritzinger of PLP. But Noah Cochran lost to Heath Fry of the Pride in another split set match. Then Gavin Nazir beat the Eagles' Ryan Hughes 7-6, 6-3, leaving the Pride needing just one doubles win to claim the trip to the state championship.
Kritzinger and Fry got that, besting the Eagles' Milligan and Cochran 8-3.
The Pine Lake Prep bunch will likely dominate the conference next year, too. Ramanata is the only senior. Patel is a freshman and Sieni a junior; the rest of their team are sophomores.
They'll have a tough time getting a championship. Theyll have to play the North Carolina School of Science and Math team, who are unbeaten this year after beating Franklin Academy for the third time this season on Wednesday.
Lincoln Charter can take pride in having been the only team to beat the Pride this season; they won one of two regular season meetings.