Down to two: Varsity tennis makes state championships


Dehlin Lee

The crowd cheers as freshman Lorenzo Alarcon scores a point to put the Warriors up in set one. “It is insane that I will be competing for a state championship my freshman year, with all the people I am going with, I have looked up to them for years and they always made me eager to get better, and now that I get the chance at a state championship with them, is great,” Alarcon said.

Dehlin Lee, Reporter, Photographer

Edging closer to the end of the season, the NC boys varsity tennis team reaches the elite eight in the final games of the Georgia High School Association [GHSA] tennis tournament that began on April 18. Senior players Kaden Barfield, Blake Williams, and Blake Howell fought hard to beat the Walton Raiders in singles in the sweet sixteen to secure the win and move forward to the elite eight.  

“It is a special thing that we have made it this far, especially since it’s my last year and this is the farthest we’ve made it since I have been here,” Barfield said.

Facing tough competition, the Warriors took on Milton High School in the elite eight to determine a spot in the final four. The Warriors took two singles lines to start off the night, and senior Kaden Barfield lost a hard-fought singles match, putting the Eagles up on the board.

“At this point, we needed Blake Williams and Blake Howell to both win, and they were both on fire and did amazing. Blake Williams played a three-hour match which made the win so much sweeter and each of them secured the win and sent us on to the final four,” Head Coach Nishmin Porbandarwala said.

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Senior Blake Williams fought a long, tough match but came up short of a win in three sets. Williams lost the final set 6-8, giving Wheeler a 2-0 win. “The goal for the season has always been to go as far as we can. We are not just playing for ourselves, but playing for the team and the school. My team has really surprised me, and each match has been something special, I could not be more proud of them,” Williams said.

Senior Blake Williams fought a tough match, losing the first set 4-6 but taking the match by winning the next two sets—the Eagles only needed one line to move onto the next round. Coming back winning the second match 6-3, Williams kept the Warriors in the fight to the final four. Obtaining the win in the final set at 6-3, Williams put the Warriors up on the board, tying for singles, awaiting the determining match of Blake Howell.

With the Warriors needing only one more win to send them off to the final four, the team watched in anticipation as Howell secured the win in the final match of singles. Winning the first set 6-2, Howell only needed to win one more set to move on to the final four. Howell won the second set with a close score of 6-4.

Moving onto the final four,  NC will host Wheeler High School at home to determine a spot in the GHSA tennis championship. NC swept Wheeler 5-0 in the regular season and anticipate another win to send them off to the championship.

“I am expecting a close match against Wheeler, but we’re bringing the fire and we will secure a spot in the championship. It’s all or nothing now,” Coach Porbandarwala said.

Fighting hard for the final spot in the state championship, the NC warriors battled against Wheeler High School at NC, April 29. Working harder each set to get the final destination, the Warriors took down Wheeler in a close match up.

“This has definitely been an unforgettable season and I am so proud of how far the team has come, to say we’re competing for a state championship is surreal, it is a lot to take in especially to end my senior year, it feels like a dream come true,” Williams said.

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Senior Kaden Barfield serves the ball to begin the second set, falling short of a win in the first set that put Wheeler up on the board 0-1. “I think the team did really well. [As] for myself, I have some things to work on to be ready for this weekend. I am expecting whoever we play on Saturday to be good, and we need to be ready,” Barfield said.
Losing in singles matches, Bardfield and Williams both fell short of the goal and relied on their teammates to take down Wheeler,  Barfield, who played the first line lost in two sets, 7-5 and 6-4.

“Overall I think the team did good but I have things to work on to prepare for the state championship on Saturday,” Barfield said.

Williams losing in three sets put the Warriors 0-2 for the night with Wheeler only needing one win to advance to the state championship. Relying on Howell to pull through and put the Warriors on the board to keep the match going filled the Warriors with much anticipation.

Shutting down his opponent in two sets, Howell achieved the win and put the Warriors on the board for the first time for the night.

Winning the first match of doubles, senior Reed Walker and freshman Peyton Stack kept the Warriors in the match. Successfully beating Wheeler in two sets 6-5 and 7-5, Stack and Walker tied the match at 2-2.

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Sophomore Ryan Tuchman and freshman Lorenzo Alarcon prepare for the final set, determining who would move on to the championship. “I am so excited that we are moving on to the championship [round], and even though my boys almost gave me a heart attack each match, I could not be more proud and happy that Tuchman and Alarcon pulled through and got the win,” Head coach Nishmin Porbandarwala said.
Fighting until the last serve, freshman Lorenzo Alarcon and sophomore Ryan Tuchman became the determinant match to secure a spot in the state championship. Alarcon and Tuchman began the match off well, taking the first set at 7-6. Wheeler lead 0-5 in the second set, quickly rebounding but still falling short Alarcon and Tuchman lost the second set 5-7. Going back and forth, Alarcon and Tuchman kept fighting and took the third set 7-5, sending the Warriors off to Rome for the state championship.

“When I first won everything around me went silent. Making the team and playing varsity seemed so far away, and to be the first team to make it to the state championship in eight years, it is an amazing thing to be a part of. I never thought this day would happen,” Alarcon said.