Scrappy performance lands Warhorses in quarterfinals of state championship

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
The doubles team of Wyatt Lehman, left, and Hunter Haynes finished as the runner-up in the regional tournament on May 4, earning a number 2 seed in the state championship tournament. The duo fell to Clinton in the second round of the state tournament after surviving a tough opening round match against a doubles team from Carrboro.

The Owen tennis season came to an end on May 10 in Cary with a loss in the quarterfinal round, but not before seniors Wyatt Lehman and Hunter Haynes survived a marathon match in the tournament opener. 

The Warhorses doubles team, which entered the tournament ranked number 2, needed over two-and-a-half hours to bounce a number 3 seeded duo from Carrboro High School in the opening round of the tournament. 

The team's season ended on May 7, when the Warhorses fell to Brevard in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs. Owen finished the season 7-7-1 with a 4-1 record in the Western Highlands Conference. 

"That was the first state tournament win for the team in a while," said Chris Barcklow, who shares head coaching duties for the Warhorses with Chuck Robinson. "We had some pretty high expectations going in, we had four seniors in our top six and the other two were juniors."

The Warhorses opened their season at the end of February against tough competition. 

Owen opened the season 0-2 with a pair of losses to Reynolds and Roberson. They picked up their first win against North Buncombe on March 5 before suffering their second loss of the season to Roberson two days later. 

By mid-March, the Warhorses found their groove and reeled off four straight wins. 

The Owen Warhorses ended their season in the second round of the state playoffs, where they fell to Brevard on May 7.

"I tried to put together a tough schedule for these guys this year," Barcklow said. "I wanted them to face some tough competition to help them get ready for the playoffs."

Lehman and Hayes were the WHC doubles champions this year and senior Lorenz Hoover finished the season as the runner-up in singles. 

The doubles team advanced to regional competition at Gardner-Webb University on May 4. Lehman and Hayes advanced to the semifinal round in the tournament before losing to the doubles team from Brevard in the finals. 

"It was our goal for them to advance to the state championship this season," Barcklow said. "They did an amazing job in regionals."

Their performance in Boiling Springs set them up for a tough match in the championship tournament, which was held at the Cary Tennis Center. 

"I've seen a lot of tennis," Barcklow said of the doubles team's opening round match against the team from Carrboro. "That was a very exciting match."

Lehman and Haynes needed two hours and 40 minutes to move past John Blobe and Jake Twer. 

"Most matches wrap up in about one hour and fifteen minutes," Barcklow said. "Two entire matches were completed on the court next to Hunter and Wyatt while they were playing this match."

The coach described the match as a "nail biter."

"They had five match points against them," Barcklow said. "The saved all five of those match points to win the match."

Owen fell to number 1 seed Clinton, which the coach described as a smart, aggressive duo, in the quarterfinals. 

"Hunter and Wyatt just started playing tennis three years ago," Barcklow said. "These guys are two- and three-sport athletes and they were facing year-round tennis players in that tournament. I'm really proud of what these two young mean, and the entire team, was able to accomplish this season."