CHARLOTTE – Calvin Davis will one day end up in Country Day’s hall of fame for what he’s done for the Bucs’ tennis program.
Davis was named the Professional Tennis Registry High School Coach of the Year last season. He has now won 30 state titles while at Country Day and 18 of the Bucs’ 19 boys state championships after the Bucs stomped Greensboro Day 5-1 on May 18.
With all of that success, even he was surprised by a telling couple of numbers: 155-5.
That was the Bucs record in individual games won and lost against teams from North Carolina as they went 19-0 in the state.
“Wow,” Davis said after a pause. “I didn’t realize that was the number.”
A winning percentage of .969 on the season is remarkable especially considering the level of talented teams the Bucs had to go through to reach their third straight NCISAA title.
They played Division II state champion Carmel Christian and blanked them 9-0. Perennial powers like Cary Academy and Durham Academy along with two matches against runner-up Greensboro Day didn’t deter the remarkable season nor did matches against their CISAA opponents.
“We faced quality schools throughout the season and the teams in our conference are really good teams, too,” Davis said. “We were blessed to have so many good players at the same place at one time, but the best part of it was they worked so well together as a unit. We didn’t have any selfish players on this team at all. Nobody complained about what position they were going to play from match to match and they were constantly hanging out and having breakfast and lunches together and doing things with each other. It was a great group.”
So how were the Bucs able to dominate so well?
First, they had to replace Luke McClelland, a three-time all-state selection who is now a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis.
To combat that, the Bucs welcomed freshman David Saye, who came in as the No. 1 from the jump and earned all-state honors after posting a perfect record of 15-0 in singles and 13-0 in doubles.
But he wasn’t the only newcomer to make an impact as freshman Nathan Jackson and Sam Farnham both got some singles action and Jackson was a regular on the No. 2 doubles team.
The rest of the lineup remained intact from last year’s state championship team and came back eager to win another title this time around.
All-state junior Bennett Turner was outstanding at No. 2 and was followed in the lineup by Kaelan van Cleeff, Tarun Prakash, Johnny Bingham, Michael Smith and some combination of Jackson or Farnham usually rounded out the rotation. Davis played most of his players on multiple lines during the season to keep it fresh and to give guys some different competition to prepare for states.
“Almost none of those guys lost many matches at all,” Davis said. “And the beauty of it all is that we got to play our one through four players at No. 1 at different times during the year, which gave them a lot of experience and confidence.”
The Bucs’ dominance may continue despite them losing six seniors to graduation. Davis said four of his top six singles players are back next year with Van Cleef still just a sophomore and the three freshmen this year ready to keep the tradition going.
For Davis, the orchestrator of so many championship runs, this one still meant quite a bit.
“Personally, I was really excited for Michael Smith, a senior who played No. 6 for us,” Davis said. “He continuously came through for us, and it was his match that culminated the win at states.
“They’re all special because I get older and people ask if this is going to be my last year because I’m really starting to move on now …We had great parents this year who never questioned anything I did. That made it easier for me to relax and easier for the guys to relax. It was a great situation.”