Default 0A video interview following the Elite 8 victory.
The Richmond Hill High School boys tennis team defeated Columbus 3-0 on Friday in the Elite 8 quarterfinal round of the state playoffs to put them one step away from becoming state champions. They are slated to compete in the Final Four in Atlanta Saturday, May 10.
The stage for the Elite 8 was set in much the same manner it was last year, again against Columbus. Last year, Columbus won in a 3-2 tie-breaker. This year, the Wildcats completely dominated by winning the first three out of five matches. No. 1 and 2 singles players Michael Zhu and Chris Noonberg were on pace for a sweeping victory when the Columbus coach stopped the competition, having already lost.
"They played the kind of tennis they should’ve played all year long," Coach Pat Paruso said. "These boys were highly motivated to make it to the Final Four and they did exactly what was needed to win. They are confident walking into Atlanta, but they know it’s going to be brutal. If anyone can do it, this team can. I don’t think anyone who saw today’s matches would dispute that."
Earlier in the week against Spalding, the team stayed focused on every point during the matches and posted a 5-0 shutout to advance to the Elite 8.
No. 1 singles player Michael Zhu led the way for the Cats with a two set win. Zhu was flawless from the baseline and a strong service game left no openings. No. 2 Chris Noonburg played a smart game. He set up his points well, allowing him many winning volleys. No. 3 Jason Trankle played a patient game, drawing numerous unforced errors. When in a rally, Jason had little trouble coming up with a winning shot. No. 1 doubles Nic Balas and Ethan Lane overwhelmed their match. Balas’s serve provided many service winners, and Lane controlled all net play. No. 2 doubles John Rush and partner Kyle Guither added the final point with a two set shut out.
The boys are currently ranked number 5 in the State. The Final Four takes place next Saturday at the Clayton County International Park in Atlanta.