ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior may not historically be known as a tennis hotbed, but in recent years it has been.
Richmond’s boys tennis team has qualified for the 4A dual team playoffs the last three seasons and also has been represented in either singles or doubles play in the state tournament three out of the last four years.
First-year coach Mike James led Richmond to an 11-2 overall record and an 8-2 mark in SEC play. Richmond advanced to face East Chapel Hill in the first round of the dual team playoffs. The Wildcats rolled to a 6-0 victory to eliminate the Raiders.
Richmond finished second in the Southeastern Conference standings behind perennial power Pinecrest. The Raiders’ lone losses during the season were to the Patriots, 5-4 in both matches.
During the conference tournament in Raeford, Richmond achieved a first — winning the singles and doubles championships.
Colt Auman cruised past Pinecrest’s Jacob Johnson 6-1, 6-2 to grab the singles crown. The team of Andrew Balzer and Brandon Ingram rallied to beat Scotland’s Robert Beacham and Walker Davis 2-6, 6-5, 7-6 (7-3) to bring home the doubles title.
“It feels good winning it after coming in second last year,” Ingram said. “Both teams battled well but in the end we were able to pull it out.”
With their finishes in the SEC meet, all three players would head to the regional competition in Wilmington.
Auman advanced to the East Region final, falling to New Hanover’s Marshall Warren 6-1, 6-2. The second-place finish allowed Auman to earn his first trip to the state tournament as a singles player. Balzer and Ingram won their first match before falling in the second round.
At the state tournament, Auman was the No. 2 seed from the East and faced the No. 3 player from the West, South Mecklenburg’s Grant Patton. Auman downed Patton 6-1, 6-2. In the next round, Auman squared off with the Midwest Region champion Bennett Crane out of R.J. Reynolds. Crane stopped Auman 6-1, 6-0.
“I finished in the Top 8 in the state,” Auman said. “I’m fine with it.”
Editor’s note - This is the first of a five-part series looking at last year’s top sports stories from Richmond Senior.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 or on Twitter @scgolfer.