Edenton’s path to a third consecutive Northeastern Coastal Conference boys tennis regular season title looks like it could be short and sweet.
Short because the NCC is down to just four teams this spring as Northeastern. Pasquotank and Bertie are not fielding teams. The remaining schools will play only six conference matches instead of 12.
Sweet because the Aces have already beaten traditional top contender First Flight and did it with a lineup that has only three veterans.
First-year coach Nick Castiglione said Edenton, which was 14-5 overall last season, went undefeated in the NCC for the second straight year and advanced to the second round of the state 2A team tournament, is trying to schedule more non-conference matches.
“It’s very disappointing to see the kids lose matches,” he said. “You don’t want them to get cheated. You want them to play all the matches they can.
“I don’t think I have to worry about it, but we are tying to add those matches so they can stay sharp and motivated.”
The Aces were certainly sharp and focused when they handed First Flight a 7-2 loss last week.
“The kids were telling me this was a big win,” Castiglione said. “But in general, they were pretty confident coming in.”
The only singles match the Aces lost was at No. 1, where returning NCC Player of the Year and state 2A semifinalist Eban Wells defeated Stephen Chesson, a senior who did not play last season and was Edenton’s No. 4 singles player two years ago.
Chesson, incidentally, is no longer at playing at No. 1.
After the First Flight match, junior Austin Wilder beat Chesson in a challenge match to take the spot.
Wilder, who was 10-0 at No. 6 singles last spring when Edenton went unbeaten against conference foes for the second straight season, was a region singles qualifier a year ago.
“Austin has put in a lot of work in the offseason and has gotten a lot better,” Castiglione said.
Rounding out the Aces lineup are junior Curtis Johnson, who had an 11-5 record at No. 3 singles and went to the 2A East Region doubles tournament with graduated partner Josh Laverty; junior Mark Montgomery, sophomore Nick Beaman and freshman David Nixon. Montgomery and Beamon saw some action last year.
Senior Dan Andronowitz will provide depth.
Coach: Vic Ramsey, 8th season
Last year’s record: 7-8 overall, 6-4 NCC
Outlook: For a while in the preseason, it was looking like the Knights might not have a team, either, but Ramsey rounded up enough players and Currituck is already off to a 1-0 start after a win over Hertford.
Senior Jonathan Jackson, who was 11-5 at No. 5 singles last year, is now occupying the top spot as Currituck lost five of last year’s top seven players. No. 2 man Caleb Robie, a senior, sharted time at No. 6 singles last season.
The other players are newcomers: Junior Tyler Carter, seniors Austin Aviles and Christian Louis and freshman Ryan Carter.
“We will have to take a step back and do some rebuilding,” Ramsey said. “If we stay healthy and focused, we could improve dramatically as the season goes along.”