The result Tuesday wasn’t what Polk County’s boys tennis team wanted, and the quiet post-match reaction from the Wolverines reflected that.
Head coach Richard Davis quickly told his team to smile, enjoy the accomplishments of the regular season and go grab some dinner.
Polk County dropped a 6-3 decision to Owen that left the two teams tied atop the Western Highlands Conference. The share of the regular-season title is the first in school history for the Wolverines, coming in what was expected to be a rebuilding season for the Polk program.
“If you had told me at the beginning of the season that we were going to be co-champions, I don’t think I would have believed it,” Davis said. “We’ve played with four beginners, at least they were at the start of the season.
“We beat Owen once. Mountain Heritage had a good team and we beat them twice. We beat Kings Mountain twice. We beat East Henderson. We played a very good Pisgah team a 6-3 match.
“I’m pleased. I’m happy. I’m not a bit disappointed. I just can’t be disappointed.”
Polk County (9-4) earned a 5-4 win earlier this season at Owen, splitting the singles matches and then winning two doubles matches.
Owen responded Tuesday by shuffling around its lineup and took a 4-2 lead after singles. The Warhorses clinched the match with a win at No. 3 doubles, then earned another victory at No. 1 before Henry Heider and Adam Kehrer closed the match with a 9-8 (7-2) win at No. 2 doubles.
No. 1 player Ryan Heider delivered one of the singles wins, remaining unbeaten in his Polk career with the 10-0 triumph, with Grant Waddell claiming the other at No. 4.
“Grant Waddell stepped up and got a singles win. He played his best match of the year,” Davis said. “He was determined to win the match.”
Though the regular season ended Tuesday, the Wolverines are far from done. Ryan Heider will compete in the 1A West Regional on May 3-4 in singles, with Henry Heider and Adam Kehrer competing as a doubles team.
Polk also earned a 1A playoff berth and, due to the structure of the playoffs, a first-round bye. The Wolverines will face an opponent to be determined on May 7 in the second round.
“It’s been a heck of a season,” Davis said. “Standing here, knowing we’re in the second round of the playoffs, is crazy.
“When you look where we started, these guys have super-exceeded, no matter what happens the rest of the way.”
1. Ryan Heider (PC) d. Lorenz Hoover 10-0; 2. Wyatt Lehman (O) d. Henry Heider 10-6; 3. Hunter Haynes (O) d. Jared Searcy 10-1; 4. Grant Waddell (PC) d. Eli Colson 10-4; 5. Brandon Nightingale (O) d. Adam Kehrer 10-7; 6. Julian Swoap (O) d. Alfredo Avellaneda 10-1.
1. Lehman-Haynes (O) d. R. Heider-Avellaneda 8-6; 2. H. Heider-Kehrer (O) d. Hoover-Colson 9-8 (7-2); 3. Nightingale-Swoap (O) d. Waddell-Searcy 8-2.