Published: Feb 29, 2012 02:17 AM
Modified: Feb 28, 2012 04:16 PM
Apex and Green Hope tied for first place in the Tri-Nine boys tennis standings last year, and continued to match one another the rest of the year. Both teams finished 16-3 overall and lost in the third round of the 4A playoffs.
If there was a difference between the two last year, it was their lineups.
Most of Apex's top players have graduated, but Green Hope returns five of its six starters.
The Falcons return Tri-Nine doubles champions Matt Hammond and Kyle Burns - both juniors - as well as junior Mark Wickelgren, senior Stevie Wang, junior Michael Neighbors and senior Ken Fan.
Apex returns senior Shivan Desai and junior Will Ostrom.
Middle Creek senior Matt Stachowiak has finished runner-up in two of the last three Tri-Nine singles championships - against an eventual 4A state champ and 4A runner-up. The senior could be the top player in the conference this year, and his team will get some help with the return of teammate A.J. Wypchoski, a senior.
Athens Drive lost 4A singles runner-up Roman Cacha, but will return two-time regional qualifier Kelvin Menezes, a senior.Cardinal Gibbons:
The Crusaders return four starters from a 26-2 club that won the NCHSAA 3A title, defeating Charlotte Catholic in the finals 6-0. Gibbons has won state titles in five of the past six years. Among the vets are College of Charleston recruit Matt Daly (27-4 at No. 1 singles), Killian Steer (23-2 at No. 3 singles and a state champion in doubles), Greg Galush (22-1 at No. 5 singles) and Pierce Beary (20-3 at No. 6).Staff writer Tim Stevens contributed to this report.