The Transylvania Times -

Blue Devils Advance To State Semifinals In Tight Match - Brevard, NC

 

May 18, 2017

Jeremiah Reed

Brevard's Cam Wilson rallied for a pivotal victory in his No. 2 singles match Monday against Newton-Conover that helped the Blue Devils seal a victory in a tough third-round contest.

After last week's second round win over Lake Norman, Brevard head tennis coach Mike Vandegrift said depth would be crucial for the Blue Devils' success moving forward.

That proved to be the case as Brevard needed every bit of that depth Monday afternoon to defeat Newton-Conover 5-2 and advance to their fourth straight state semifinal appearance.

Despite the three-game margin of victory, the match as a whole was closer than the score would indicate, but Brevard picked up a couple of pivotal singles matches to give them breathing room headed into doubles play.

Charles Kang got Brevard on the board first, defeating Anderson Welsh 6-0, 6-1 in the number three singles spot.

Moments later Cullen Duval doubled the Blue Devils' lead by winning his singles match against Will Pittman 6-1, 6-0.

The next match to finish was the top singles contest that pitted Brevard's Liam Baer against the Red Devils' freshman sensation Brann Reid, who was fresh off a victory in the 2A singles state title match last Saturday.

Baer started off strong, taking the first two matches of the first set, but as play continued Reid settled in and began picking up points.

The match was highly competitve, with multiple long rallies between the two.

In the end, however, Reid took the first set 6-2 and won the second set by the same score, cutting Brevard's lead to 2-1.

As the match wore on, emotions ran high on each side.

In the number six singles spot, Ty Whitesides defeated Grayson Welsh 6-2 in the first set and withstood a fierce charge in the second set to win 6-4.

Welsh responded by smashing his racket against a flagpole.

With Brevard leading 3-1, Aidan Spradlin tried to make a comeback against Aaron Hamm in the number four match after dropping the first set 6-1.

As he made his charge there was a lengthy debate over the score that ultimately led to volunteers standing courtside to monitor the action.

Spradlin's play improved greatly over the second set, but he was unable to dig out of the hole, dropping the set 6-4 and cutting the Blue Devils' lead to 3-2.

That left the number two spot as the only match to complete, which featured Brevard's Cam Wilson against Henry Cox.

That match too had it's flareups as Cox demanded line judges after Wilson called several balls out of bounds, which he protested.

Cox won the first set 6-4, using a big serve to Wilson on his heels.

But as the match wore on and the afternoon heat scorched down, Wilson maintained his composure and began to wear his opponent down.

Cox took an early lead in the second set only to show clear signs of fatigue as play progressed.

That opened the door for Wilson, who kept the bounce in his legs and rallied to win 6-4, forcing a third set tiebreaker.

In a race to 10 points, both players were running on fumes.

Particularly Cox, who struggled to get any of his powerful serves over the net.

Wilson maintained his strategic approach, jumping out to a 7-4 lead before moving to 9-4.

Cox rattled off three straight points before Wilson put the match to bed, swinging momentum back to Brevard and giving them a 4-2 lead in a race to five matches.

From there, the two sides went to doubles play and there was little doubt that Brevard would close it out.

The team of Kang and Bryce Spradlin did just that, defeating the brother duo of Welsh-Welsh 10-2 to bring an end to a nearly three-hour contest.

It was clearly Brevard's toughest match of the year, but Vandegrift said he was pleased with how his team came up in big moments.

"Newton-Conover was an interesting team. They have three very strong players and they all played very well. But our guys played well when they had to and that was the big thing today. It was a tough match, but we were in good position headed into doubles play," Vandegrift said.

The win set up a semifinal match on Wednesday against Shelby.

The Blue Devils will compete in that match without Duval, who will be out of town participating in a science competition.

That forces Vandegrift to adjust his lineup, inserting Bryce Spradlin into the starting six, but he is confident that from top-to-bottom his team can get the job done.

"That affects us in four positions, but we match up really well against Shelby. So as long as we can win 1-2-3 and 4, I think we'll be fine," he said.

 
 

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