Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
The Hunt-Fike rivalry, across all varsity platforms, has experienced its share of emotional, intense moments over the years. Some have bordered on, and even exceeded, a loss of control.
But any patrons zeroing in on Wednesday’s 3-A Big East Conference boys tennis match between the two as the epicenter of the next big scene left disappointed.
With the Golden Demons serving as the guest for Hunt’s senior day, Fike wrapped up no worse than second place in the conference and the automatic North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A dual team postseason berth that comes with it following an 8-1 victory.
Fike won its 10th match against three losses and moved to 7-2 in the Big East, with the Demons observing their own senior day Thursday at home against the Warriors to end the regular season.
Hunt, which played four of its nine seniors in its starting lineup, fell to 6-5 in all matches and 4-5 within the league. The Warriors, in the second season under coach Debbie Bass, have exhibited a four-win improvement since last year. For Fike, the use of predetermined brackets in boys tennis means that the Demons will be traveling to Clayton, the champions of the Greater Neuse River Conference. Fike, which beat Hunt for the eighth straight meeting dating back to March of 2014, fell to Clayton 9-0 back on March 8.
“Once they got here, they were all business,” Fike coach Lee Matthews said. “I think they were a little lackadaisical coming across playing Hunt. They know everybody on the team, and there’s no uncertainty there. They know who they’re going to play, they’ve seen them two, three or four years. But they took care of business, and that was the important thing. I’d like a little bit more intensity in a couple places, but overall real pleased with it.”
Fike, with five seniors (Thomas Hodges, John Gliarmis, Walker Gliarmis, A.J. Gunter, Justin Bass) in its own starting singles lineup Wednesday, clinched the outcome before doubles with wins by the entire quintet.
At No. 1 singles, Hodges turned back David Joyner 6-3, 6-1 before bowing out prior to doubles with back trouble. Victories from John Gliarmis at No. 2, Walker Gliarmis at No. 3 and Gunter at No. 4 staked the Demons to a 4-1 advantage. Hunt temporarily broke the stranglehold at No. 5, with senior Parker McCall beating Fike freshman Cole Peterson 6-4, 6-4. However, at No. 6, Bass clinched the outcome with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Hunt senior Jose Chavez, making his first varsity start. Chavez, who dropped the second-set tiebreaker 8-6, moved from the No. 8 spot after senior Dylan Skinner was unavailable due to a chorus obligation.
Gunter turned away Hunt’s Zac Taylor at No. 4 singles by a 6-2, 6-0 margin.
“We always take the Hunt-Fike rivalry seriously,” Gunter said. “It’s always a big game, and I think our matches last week prepared us. We played great as a whole. The guys are a good group of guys, and Coach Matthews does a great job instructing us and teaching us what’s best in each situation. I thought today, we had a great effort and came out strong.”
In singles, Hodges and both Gliarmis twins secured their 10th victories of the season.
With the outcome in hand, the three doubles matches piggybacked off the laid-back atmosphere of singles. With Hodges out, the Gliarmis twins moved to No. 1 doubles and turned in an 8-0 victory over Joyner-Josh Edwards. Gunter teamed with junior Max Fogleman at No. 2 doubles and repeated the process with another 8-0 win over Hunt’s Matthew Prasasouk-Taylor. The No. 3 doubles match had a tinge of competitive drama, with McCall-Chavez battling back from an early deficit against Peterson-Jack Boyette. But from 7-6 in the pro-set format, Peterson-Boyette put the match away on their serve.
Skinner, Joyner, Emmanuel Ortiz, Gustavo Franco, Chavez, Edwards, Moises Rios, McCall and Ethan Fatzaun make up Hunt’s sizable, albeit tennis inexperienced senior class. Edwards played 2017 at the No. 6 spot before taking over the No. 2 spot as a senior.
“We’ve won a lot more matches,” McCall said. “Last year, we lost a lot, and I’d say overall the team has improved pretty well.”
Bass, who only scheduled two nonconference matches in the name of more on-court instructional time, assured she would stick to the approach in the future with tweaks.
“That was a very good decision,” she said. “We needed that court time, and I wouldn’t change anything about that. I do absolutely feel that we’ve benefitted from that, because we were able to practice drills at a fine level — the slice, the lob, and hone in on those skills as a result. Whereas last year, we just didn’t have enough time to get to it because we were playing so many matches.”
FIKE 8, HUNT 1
Thomas Hodges (F) def. David Joyner 6-3, 6-1; John Gliarmis (F) def. Josh Edwards 6-3, 6-0; Walker Gliarmis (F) def. Matthew Prasasouk 6-1, 6-0; A.J. Gunter (F) def. Zac Taylor 6-2, 6-0; Parker McCall (H) def. Cole Peterson 6-4, 6-4; Justin Bass (F) def. Jose Chavez 6-4, 7-6(6).
W. Gliarmis-J. Gliarmis (F) def. Joyner-Edwards 8-0; Gunter-Max Fogleman (F) def. Prasasouk-Taylor 8-0; Peterson-Jack Boyette (F) def. McCall-Chavez. 8-6.