Four years removed from its last championship, it remains very unwise to count out the South Kingstown boys tennis team.
The Rebels won a classic over Wheeler in the semifinals of the Division I playoffs on Tuesday, prevailing 4-3 in dramatic fashion. On the road to face the fourth-seeded Warriors, the No. 5 Rebels trailed 3-2 with two matches left on the court. Matt Burns at No. 2 singles and Ryan Estus at No. 4 both won third-set tiebreakers to send the Rebels into the semifinals with a flourish.
“It reminded me of a Slater Park match,” Carr said. “It was big pressure. I told them, they both showed a lot of guts, that’s for sure.”
Burns was up 5-2 in the third set of his match with Kobe Kase when he lost four straight games. Kase needed to win just one more game to clinch the match – and the team win – but Burns dug deep and won the next game to tie the set 6-6. He won the tiebreaker 9-7 to tie the team score at 3-3.
“Kobe Kase is really tough,” Carr said. “Matt had to play well just to hang in there, never mind to win it.”
Estus didn’t have to deal with shifting momentum like his teammate, but his path wasn’t any easier. He trailed throughout the third set, at 4-3, then 5-4, then 6-5. Wheeler’s Harry Feng had multiple match points when it was 6-5, but Estus staved them off to force the tiebreaker. Once there, he rolled, winning 7-4 to send the Rebels to victory.
“The Wheeler boy had multiple match points to clinch the match and the team match, but Estus got it to the tiebreaker,” Carr said. “He did a great job. Both Ryan and Matt, it was the biggest win for both of them in their career, in my opinion.”
The Rebels also got a 6-1, 6-1 win from Jimmy Robbin at No. 3 singles. Ethan Lin and Nick Fera won at No. 2 doubles, beating Andy Weisberg and Eliot Advani 6-1, 6-2.
Victories at No. 1 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 3 doubles put the Warriors ahead, before the Rebels made their move.
The win gets the Rebels back to the semifinals after they missed out in 2019. They’ll visit top-seeded La Salle on Thursday at 4 p.m.
“The first match, we got skunked by them. It was the first match of the year and we did not play well,” Carr said. “You get matches like [the quarterfinals], where you win a big match, and you convince yourself you can do it. It can really set a new path for you either way, if you lose it or win it. La Salle is tough. They’ve got probably the best depth of any team in the state this year. I really feel like if we play well, we have a shot.”
Skippers move into semis
The second-seeded North Kingstown tennis team had no trouble with Narragansett in the opening round, winning 4-0 on Tuesday afternoon.
The Skippers won three singles matches and scored the clinching point at No. 1 doubles. Nick Neville won 6-0, 6-0 over Brian Rocchio at No. 2 singles, Oliver Lawton topped Jake Pietrzak 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 singles, and Alex Soucy prevailed 6-1, 6-1 over Aiden Sykas at No. 4.
On the doubles court, Charles Lawton and Henry Coghlin won 6-2, 6-1 over Nathan Ward and Parker Harrison.
The Skippers will host No. 3 Cumberland on Thursday at 5 p.m.