If Wednesday proves to be Richard Davis’ last dual match as Polk County’s tennis coach, he could have asked for no better sendoff.
The Wolverines wrapped their regular season with a 5-4 win at Hendersonville, completing a season sweep of the Bearcats with the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference win.
Polk County (10-5, 6-4) players will take part in next week’s Mountain Foothills individual tournament at Brevard, then will have to wait until the last week of April to see if the team earns one of two 2A West wild card berths available for the state dual team playoffs.
Polk and Hendersonville split singles matches, with the Wolverines then scoring wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles to secure the team victory.
“So very proud of how all the guys stepped up and made it happen,” said Davis, who is retiring at year’s end. “Certainly, there were some heartbreaking losses, but then there were five fabulous victories.
“Gabe Alvarado and Riley Ballentine accounted for three big wins between the two of them, which was awesome. Then steps in Thaddeus Ruff to play possibly his best tennis of the season and winning easily in singles and then playing extraordinarily well in the No. 1 doubles match after being down 2-0 in the early going of the match. “Even though Banks lost a heartbreaking singles match, he rebounded to play extremely well with Thaddeus in winning six straight games after the early deficit.
“What a great effort from everyone. That’s why they call it a tennis team. What a good group of guys, what a good season.”
1. Canyon Hilliard (H) d. Banks Barber 6-4, 6-7, 10-2 tiebreaker; 2. Caiden Hilliard (H) d. Jack Smith 6-3, 6-4; 3. Thaddeus Ruff (PC) d. Mauricio Martinez 6-1, 6-1; 4. Sam Kowalak (H) d. Eric Avellaneda 6-2, 6-1; 5. Gabe Alvarado (PC) d. Aiden Chacon 6-2, 6-7, 6-4; 6. Riley Ballentine (PC) d. Jake Youngblood 6-1, 6-0.
1. Barber-Ruff (PC) d. Canyon Hilliard-Kowalak 6-2; 2. Caiden Hilliard-Martinez (H) d. Smith-Avellaneda 7-6 (7-2); 3. Alvarado-Ballentine (PC) d. Chacon-Youngblood 6-2.