The Myers Park tennis team still hasn't forgotten two heartbreaking 5-4 losses to Ardrey Kell last season. The Mustangs, whose only two losses were to the Knights, had to stomach the second of the two defeats - in the third round of the 4A West playoffs - for the entire offseason.
Myers Park beat North Mecklenburg 6-0 in the second round of the dual team playoffs Tuesday. The Mustangs will host Providence in the third round next week.
"Last year was a big motivator for our team," Myers Park coach Ed Flynn said. "Our players thought about the playoff loss (to Ardrey Kell) and talked about the whole offseason. That motivation was a large part of the success we have been able to have this year."
This year as the Mustangs take a perfect 14-0 record into a second-round match with North Mecklenburg. In the process, the Mustangs won their first Southwestern 4A title in seven years, avenging their only two losses last year with a 7-2 rout of Ardrey Kell.
"If you can have success in our conference, I think you can play with anybody in the state," Flynn said, in his fourth year as head coach. "If we can keep our focus on each individual playoff match, I think we have a chance to go really far."
While the Mustangs have an experienced roster, Myers Park is still a young team, as No. 1 Jim Fan and No. 2 Thomas Low are both sophomores, while No. 4 Reid Dillon is a freshman and No. 6 Patton Hearn is also a sophomore. Only No. 5 Patrick McKinney is a senior among the top six singles players, while No. 3 Ian LeBlanc is a junior.
Each of the top six players has been exceptional this season, as Dillon, McKinney and Hearn are unbeaten and Fan, Low and LeBlanc have just one loss going into the meat of postseason competition.
"I think we have one of the deepest teams (in the state) from top to bottom," Flynn said.
"That can really help you when you go up against the top teams in the state, which we will be doing."
Myers Park will have to overcome several of the state's best if they want a shot at the title in Burlington, something Flynn says they have talked about.
"We have to focus on every match we play in," Flynn said. "But Burlington (state finals) is always the goal."
Myers Park's top 6:
No. 1 Jim Fan: Sophomore is 14-1 this season, including the SW4A singles title.
No. 2 Thomas Low: Sophomore's only loss was to his teammate Fan.
No. 3 Ian LeBlanc: Junior 12-1 on the season.
No. 4 Reid Dillon: Freshman unbeaten so far in his career.
No. 5 Patrick McKinney: Only senior in top 6 unbeaten this year.
No. 6 Patton Hearn: Another super sophomore with an even brighter future.