Pack duo wins East crownPublished 7:07pm Monday, May 6, 2013
Playing in their first NCHSAA 3-A East Regional tournament as doubles partners, the Pam Pack duo of Luke Harris and Connor Wilkins wasted no time getting acclimated as they stormed their way to the tourney title game where they defeated South Central to earn the regional championship an advance to the upcoming state tournament as the No. 1 seed from the East.
Harris and Wilkins began the tournament on Friday and got off to a bumpy start but the duo buckled down to overcome some early setbacks, earning first and second round victories to qualify for this Friday’s state tournament at the Burlington Tennis Center.
“Connor and Luke had a close first round match against D.H. Conley’s No. 1 doubles team,” Washington coach Miranda Whitney said. “The only set that they lost the whole tournament was during that match. They were trying out some new things and I think nerves may have also been a factor in losing that set but they were able to figure out what worked and won the match 6-7 (2) 6-3 6-1.”
From there, the Pam Pack duo caught fire as they beat Cleveland High in straight sets in the second round and did the same to Northern Nash in Saturday’s third round matchup.
That victory set up a rematch with South Central’s Jacob Mathews and Sheldon Roberts, who beat Harris and Wilkins in the Coastal Conference championship match. However, the Washington tandem would not allow that to happen again as they rolled 6-1,6-1 to clinch the East region crown.
Harris and Wilkins were joined at the regional by freshman Holt McKeithan, who qualified for the singles tournament. McKeithan fell 6-4, 6-4 in the first round, but Whitney felt there was much to learn from the trip.
“It was a really close match and I think it was a good experience for him and I think he will go farther next year at regionals,” Whitney said.
Not all is lost for McKeithan, however, as he and the rest of the Washington netters will be back in action today when they play in the second round of the state dual team tournament when they face Union Pines.
The Pam Pack picked up a first round 5-4 victory over Eastern Wayne last week despite not having Wilkins, who was sidelined with a back injury.
Washington got wins from John Tate, Corson Buckman and Luke Ainsworth in the singles portion of the match, while McKeithan and Ainsworth and Buckman and Tate earned doubles victories.
“ I was impressed by our doubles in this match,” Whitney said. “That was what won the match for us. At the beginning of the season we were not as strong in doubles and I think they have definitely gotten more used to playing with each other as doubles partners.”