05/10/12 — Cuddington pursuing history at 1-A state tennis tournament

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Cuddington pursuing history at 1-A state tennis tournament

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 10, 2012 1:48 PM

Cynthia Cuddington felt switching from home school to public education would help benefit her youngest son, Dylan, as he prepared to adjust to college life.

Dylan has undoubtedly made an easy transition. Not only has he grown as an individual, his tennis game has matured by leaps and bounds. And he's definitely glad his mom's difficult decision is paying dividends this season.

"It's been fun. I have really enjoyed it," Cuddington said.

Indeed.

Cuddington joined the team about two weeks into regular-season play and made an immediate impact. The Eagles logged nine dual-team wins, finished runners-up in Carolina 1-A Conference play and concluded their 2012 campaign with a loss against Martin Riverside on Tuesday afternoon.

But Cuddington's season isn't over.

He still has some unfinished business.

An energetic, driven and talented player, Cuddington emerged the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A eastern regional singles champion this past weekend. He puts his perfect 18-0 record on the line in the state tournament, which begins Friday morning at the Cary Tennis Center.

Cuddington surprisingly drew an opening-round bye and will play either Jacob Fuqua of Hendersonville or meet N.C. School of Science and Math standout Jin Kang in the semifinals. Cuddington handed Kang a straight-set, shutout loss in the regional semifinals last weekend.

"I was not expecting to get a bye," Cuddington said. "It's going to be exciting. I really feel like I have a good chance of winning and will be eager to play that first match on Friday."

Cuddington will attempt to become the first-ever tennis state champion and just the fifth individual state champion overall in Rosewood athletics history. Rosewood alums Carlos Torme and Sebastian Graf finished as state runners-up in 1-A/2-A singles in 1990 and 1992, respectively.

The Eagles' doubles team of Bryan Daniels-Todd Entriken were state 1-A/2-A runners-up in 1988.

"We know that Dylan has stiff competition with some of the other regional winners that are out there and we just have to keep our focus," first-year RHS head coach Clifton Greenup said. "One thing we know is that no other player will have out-worked us on the way to the championships."

Cuddington has spent the week training with his dad, Alan, and a few friends who help keep his game sharp. He prefers to trade ground strokes on the baseline, but realizes that he must mix up his strategy if he wants a gold medal hanging around his neck late Saturday morning.

The time for cautious play is over.

"The key will be for me not to go for too much when I don't have the shot," Cuddington said. "I have to be patient and keep the ball with good depth and medium pace. When I get a short ball, I need to come in and put it away."

Just like he has done 18 times this season.