05/05/12 — Fitzpatrick three-peats in singles; Hoff-Kearney crowned East regional doubles champions

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Fitzpatrick three-peats in singles; Hoff-Kearney crowned East regional doubles champions

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 5, 2012 11:15 PM

WILSON -- It was his day.

Chaz Fitzpatrick stayed focus on every point and played four sets of phenomenal tennis Saturday on the Barton College Tennis Complex courts. The Eastern Wayne junior, for the third straight year, returned home as the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern men's singles champion.

"I guess Barton College likes me," joked Fitzpatrick.

Charles B. Aycock's doubles of Will Hoff-Michael Kearney emerged the doubles champion -- the first in boys' program history on the 3-A level, according to head coach Luke Vail. They're the first Golden Falcons to advance to the state tournament since Blake Vail, the program's all-time career leader in singles wins, advanced in 2010.

"I thought they played well," Vail said. "The biggest thing is Will and Michael believed in each other, believed in our strategy and went out and executed on the court. When they got behind, they still worked together and encouraged each other.

"They won two, tough three-set matches."

Fitzpatrick started the day with a straight-set triumph over Cleveland freshman Soren Wonde. Just 10 days ago, Wonde injury defaulted to Fitzpatrick in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference singles final.

"I was a little nervous going into it because we didn't get to play in the conference finals," Fitzpatrick said. "I went out there and played some of the best tennis I ever have (played)."

Fitzpatrick won 6-0, 6-1 and set up a match against teammate Russell Turner, who grinded out a 6-2, 6-3 decision over Wilson Fike's Nick James in the other semifinal tilt.

It was a rematch of the 2010 regional championship won by Fitzpatrick. Turner claimed the NCHSAA 1-A singles state crown last year while attending the N.C. School of Science and Math in Durham.

"It wasn't as weird as before, but it was still tough playing him," Fitzpatrick said. "It wasn't fun, either, but it was a little easier because he had a hard match right before. I just wanted to keep focused, stay aggressive.

"We're both known for letting up, so I made sure I didn't do that too much. I guess it was my day today."

Fitzpatrick won 6-0, 6-2 and climbed to 24-0 this season.

Hoff-Kearney (22-6 overall) entered the regional as the No. 1 seed and survived a second-round scare against South Central's tandem of Eric Thomas-Firas Quran. The duo returned Saturday morning and handed Northern Nash's tandem of Julian Marrero-Eric Joyner a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 defeat.

Marrero-Joyner suffered their first loss of the year.

In the finals, Hoff-Kearney rallied from a 6-5, opening-set deficit against Fike's Phillip Packard-Drayton Williams. Aycock won the tiebreaker 7-4 and eventually prevailed 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Hoff-Kearney placed the ball well, hit big shots at the net and returned serve consistently.

"I'm proud of the guys," Vail said.

The regional semifinalists automatically qualify for the season-ending NCHSAA 3-A championships at the Burlington Tennis Center. The two-day singles and doubles tournaments begin Friday morning.