Union Pines boys tennis hopes to win its 43rd conference championship this year.
After winning 42 conference championships in the school’s 56 seasons of boys tennis, Union Pines’ 2023 squad will be tested, said Union Pines Athletic Director Chad Hill.
Gone are seniors Caleb Downing, Luke O’Donnell, and Philip Johnson, who, as a trio, collected 78 victories for a 2022 team finishing at the top of 3A schools in the Sandhills Athletic Conference and qualifying for the state playoffs. Each of the three, named all-conference, reached the individual regionals, with Downing advancing to the state championships.
Returning junior Aaron Scodius, 31-4 as a sophomore and two-time all-conference, along with graduated teammate Johnson, was last year’s 3A division conference doubles champion. Scodius is expected to play at the top of the line-up.
He will be joined by returning seniors Micah Wortham and Jackson Carmichael, along with junior Joey Tortora. Wortham played sparing in his initial year of tennis but is vastly improved and expected to play a key role this season. Carmichael and Tortora, 12-4 and 11-5, respectively last year, have games that are trending up and will be counted on to join Scodius playing the more challenging positions.
Several newcomers have joined the program. Though inexperienced, two additional seniors, Jackson Baker and Haden Barnett are competing for playing time along with juniors Landon Patterson and Alex Guzman. They are joined by freshmen Cam Deibel and Patrick Kavanagh.
One of the team’s goals is to improve skills by taking the ball out of the air, and much of the preseason will be devoted to serves, volleys, overheads and interactive chemistry.
If doubles combinations click and serves advance, the team looks to be competitive and position itself for conference, regional and state honors.
Contributed. Photo/Sandhills Sentinel.