Polk tennis endures harsh conditions to top Mtn. Heritage

Published 3:21 pm Monday, April 11, 2016

By Mark Schmerling

Heading into this week’s spring break, Polk’s varsity tennis team is enjoying a 5-1 Western Highlands Conference record, but coach Richard Davis’s hard-charging team faces plenty of challenges when play resumes.

Tennis weather does not prompt thoughts of cold wind gusts and the threat of snow. The Wolverines had to fight those conditions to defeat Avery County, at Newland, on Thursday, April 7.

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In singles play, Polk got wins from Tyler Oxtoby (8-2 over Josue Guzman), Henry Monts (8-6 over Grant Hughes), Alec Becker (8-6 over Carter DeArmon), Rustin Muse (8-5 over Brock Bindledner) and Malik Miller, who defeated Thomas Paris, 8-4.

In doubles, it was Oxtoby/Monts over Guzman/Chuck Robertson, 7-6; Payton Stott/Becker over Avery’s Hughes/DeArmon, 6-2; and the Muse/Miller duo over Bindledner/Paris, 6-2.

Davis said that it was a “very hard-fought match played in terrible weather conditions at Avery. Constant wind gusts and the threat of snow forced us to play an eight-game set in singles, and a six-game set in doubles. Just about every match was close and hard-fought, as Avery has a very good team . . .We will head into spring break next week with a 5-1 Western Highlands Conference record and a 7-6 record overall.”

After the break, Davis said, “we will face Owen (April 18) and Mountain Heritage (April 19, both matches in Columbus), for a final showdown. If we can beat Owen, we will assure ourselves a second-place finish, and a first place by beating them both. As I have predicted all year long . . . I guess we’ll see!”

So far, Polk’s sticking point has been Mountain Heritage, which, after seasons of mediocrity, showed up this year with a highly-skilled team that ambushed the Wolverines 5-4 at Burnsville on April 6.

That loss was a “heartbreak” for Davis, as he mentioned that this is the first year in many that he can see Hendersonville and Owen as beatable (Polk did defeat both of those teams), “and chronic cellar-dweller Mountain Heritage pops up with a great team. Wow! The number two doubles match could have gone either way, but unfortunately for us, went their way. Without question, credit Mountain Heritage for playing great tennis and getting the job done. We now have to win out from this point forward to win the conference, which would include beating Mountain Heritage next time we play. We are going to have to pick up one more singles win the next time we play them, which will be tough, but possible . . . It’s not over until the fat lady sings, and she hasn’t even arrived at the opera house yet! Hopefully, we are going to get this thing done.”