One of the benefits of coaching two teams in the same sport is that you can often experiment across seasons to see what strategies work better for one team or the other.
This past fall, the Seaforth girls tennis team finished the regular season with an 11-2 record and were awarded the No. 1 seed in the east region of the 2A playoffs. That said, the Hawks lost their first playoff match to Triangle Math & Science, 7-2.
Head coach Peter Petrides admitted the Seaforth girls team was a little “green” heading into the state playoffs, and now he’s using what he learned in the fall to help out Seaforth’s boys team this spring. Entering Wednesday’s match against Jordan-Matthews, the Hawks were 6-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
“I took a lot from the girls season,” Petrides said. “That schedule, we tried to make it a little easier toward the end before playoffs to try and get some momentum going. That didn’t work out for us, unfortunately. This season with the boys, we’ve done things differently ... This time around, we hope having some difficult matches at the end of the season will help us figure out how we might fare going forward.”
Of Seaforth’s nine matches remaining in the regular season, six come against non-conference teams. Some of the opponents the Hawks will run into over the final few weeks of the season are Franklin Academy, Northwood and Orange, all of which offer a unique test ahead of the postseason.
The Hawks actually opened the 2023 spring season with a 6-3 win over the Chargers back on Feb. 27 despite their top singles player, junior Walker Magrinat, falling in straight sets to Northwood senior Jio Sumogod. But since then, Magrinat — who played at Northwood as a freshman in 2021 — has rattled off five straight victories and entered this week with a 5-1 singles record and a 3-0 mark in doubles play.
“(Walker) kind of wanted a little revenge, but it didn’t go his way,” Petrides said. “But since then, he’s had five very decisive wins and is getting some good momentum going heading into the heart of the schedule. We lean on Walker a lot, and he always somehow manages to step up to the task at hand. He’s a great leader out there.”
A young group with no seniors, the Hawks have also benefited from the arrival of two new players this spring, junior Owen Strom and sophomore Wakeland Branz, who previously lived in New York and Florida, respectively.
Branz and Strom came into this week with a combined singles record of 7-0 and 8-3 in doubles play this season.
Petrides highlighted both players as contributors Seaforth can’t live without.
“Owen displays a lot of emotion on the court,” Petrides said. “Last year, that was definitely something that was a learning curve for us as far as how matches go and getting our feet wet. But Owen has come in and kind of sparked kind of an emotional side to these guys, because he pumps himself up after points and gets after it. He’s fit in really well. Wakeland, to be honest, he’s just a super cool kid. He has the cool surfer hats. He’s from Florida, from the beach, and he’s very laid-back and methodical out there on the court. They’ve both been excellent additions for us so far.”
This is only Seaforth’s second boys tennis season in school history. Last spring, the Hawks were 8-4 overall and 6-0 in conference play, falling to Raleigh Charter, 8-1, in the first round of the playoffs. Every member of last year’s team is back in 2023, and they hope they can carry this early-season momentum into a deeper playoff run come the end of the year.
Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.