High faculty boys tennis: Koontz and Caraccio repeat as Rowan County Player of the Year – Salisbury Post

By Mike London

Joey Caraccio’s greatest disappointment this season was not attending to play Will Koontz, whereas Koontz’s greatest disappointment was not attending to play Caraccio.

South Rowan graduate Caraccio and Salisbury graduate Koontz are rivals who grew to become quick pals throughout their tight Central Carolina Convention battles as juniors.

As seniors, with South shifting as much as the 3A ranks, they by no means bought to face off, however each of them beat nearly everybody else they encountered.

They’d remarkably related seasons. Each overcame accidents. Each wrapped up their careers the place you need to wrap up your profession — within the state event.

Each seniors led distinctive groups. Salisbury gained one other CCC title and reached the third spherical of the state playoffs. South had an earth-shaking season for a faculty not identified for tennis. The Raiders went 12-2 within the South Piedmont Convention.

Caraccio and Koontz are once more honored as Rowan County Player of the Year for boys tennis. That award was cut up 3 ways final season, with East Rowan’s Landon Shuping additionally within the combine.

“Will had to overcome a lot this year, but he was even better than he was as a junior,” Salisbury coach Milt Griffith stated. “More consistent, more patient, and an even better leader. If I needed Will to go hit with our  No. 5 or No. 6 guys, to try to make our team better, then Will gladly did that. With Will, it was never about Will. It was always about Salisbury.”

It’s true. Koontz in all probability loved going to The Cheesecake Manufacturing facility together with his teammates greater than he did any of his singles victories.

Koontz started his senior season flat on his again with a case of mono. Medical people thought he would possibly miss a month, however he solely missed three matches.

“When I was out, the team picked me up and kept right on winning,” Koontz stated. “When I got back, I won by first match pretty easily at Thomasville, but the next one against West Davidson was a challenge. I lost the first set 6-2 and I was having a hard time breathing. But I was able to come back. I won the second set, then won the third-set tiebreaker.”

Subsequent got here a pulled abdomen muscle. Koontz was pressured to serve underhand for some time.

However he saved successful. Icepacks lastly healed the muscle and allowed him to have a giant end to his season and his highschool profession.

Koontz led Salisbury to an undefeated common season.

“When you look at what we accomplished with several first-year guys, it was pretty awesome,” Koontz stated. “I think I was more consistent this year, definitely made fewer big mistakes. I think I fought back better in the matches where I did get down. For sort of an injury prone year, it was still a very good year.”

Koontz’s solely singles loss in twin group matches got here within the playoff setback towards Lincoln Constitution.

Convention champion and regional runner-up,  Koontz additionally gained one match within the 2A state event.

“The state is always an awesome experience,” Koontz stated. “I lost in the second round (6-2, 6-2) to a guy who was really tough. I gave it all I had.”

Koontz shall be missed by the Hornets.

“Will’s got confidence in himself, but he also had this wonderful humbleness about him,” Griffith stated. “He’s not one of those kids who is walking around believing he’s good. He realized how hard he had to work to be good, and he put the work in all year to be as good as he was.”


Just like the Hornets, South Rowan tennis additionally gave all of it it had.

The Raiders in all probability fielded the most effective boys tennis group in class historical past. With a core group of seniors, this was a group that might have gained some 3A leagues this season. South’s new convention, sadly, included a robust Lake Norman Constitution squad that was among the finest in 3A. South beat everybody else within the league twice and completed second.

“I will say that I believe our team this year would have won the league we played in last year,” South coach Frank Caraccio stated. “We were strong.”

The nucleus of the South group was made up of fellows for whom baseball goals didn’t work out, however they discovered a distinct athletic path to success.

“Just a great group of guys who loved to practice, loved to play tennis, loved to compete and wanted to get better,” Coach Caraccio stated. “I couldn’t be prouder of what they accomplished.”

South ran right into a buzz-saw when it went to Lake Norman Constitution early within the season, however the rematch at South was a distinct story. Lake Norman Constitution gained it 8-1, however the matches at 4 and 5 singles and No. 2 doubles may have gone both method.

“Richard Gould, our No. 3, came back and won a great match, and I believe that’s the only conference match Lake Norman Charter didn’t win all season,” Coach Caraccio stated. “For 8-1, it was very competitive. We showed up. I loved how we competed, and playing against a team like Lake Norman Charter really helped us.”

South’s group was led by Joey Caraccio, Frank’s son.

His season was in jeopardy early on.

“Joey was in a car accident and slammed his shoulder pretty good,” Coach Caraccio stated. “He aggravated an old baseball injury and needed physical therapy. He didn’t have the serve he had as a junior because of his shoulder.”

Speak to anybody about Caraccio, and the very first thing they discuss is his deadly serve. With that taken away, he needed to discover different methods to attain factors, however he did.

He used his legs extra and used his head extra. He adjusted. That’s what the great gamers do.

“There was also some adjustment going up from 2A to 3A,” Joey stated. “3A was somewhat more difficult during the regular season, but where the difference really showed up was in the state tournament. Everyone in 3A that makes state is just super-solid. It was an eye-opener when the No. 1 kid from Lake Norman Charter lost to a No. 4 seed in the first round. That’s how tough 3A is at the state level.”

Joey had a terrific common season.  He beat excellent gamers, resembling Northwest Cabarrus’ Jacob Rinker. He beat some good gamers 6-0, 6-0.

He was convention runner-up and regional runner-up. On the state event, he misplaced 6-4, 6-1 within the first spherical to a gifted South Level participant, however he was there, and that first set was a dogfight.

“His serve was just starting to come around by state,” Coach Caraccio stated. “That’s the first time all season he was really able to let it go.”

Collaborating within the twin group state playoffs for the primary time since 1985, South misplaced an epic 5-4 street match to Atkins in Winston-Salem.

South gained at 1,2 and three singles and No. 1 doubles.

Joey’s match was one for the books. He misplaced the primary set, however rallied. He gained the third-set tiebreaker 10-8.

Gould gained an equally tight match at No. 3 singles.

The match boiled all the way down to a few factors at No. 5 singles. South didn’t get them, however the Raiders have been oh-so-close to their first ever win within the twin group playoffs.

Joey was 21-5 for the season at No. 1 singles and doubles. Frank and Joey are each amazed by how far he got here.

“No. I didn’t seen anything like that happening when I picked up tennis pretty late, but I got the bug, and then I started playing all the time,” Joey stated. “Really, all of us did. I think that’s why we had such a killer team.”

And so they had a devoted coach. Frank Caraccio was voted South Piedmont Convention Coach of the Year by his friends.

A local of upstate New York, he’s a businessman, not a schoolteacher.

His enterprise — the cleverly named “Not Just Franks” — in downtown Harmony, gives three for $5 sizzling canine, in addition to specialty objects resembling pretzels that look like the dimensions of tennis rackets.

The story of the Caraccios isn’t over by a protracted shot.

Freshman Bella Caraccio performed No. 1 for South’s ladies group again within the fall and seems to have a shiny future.

“She’s got some ability, but it’s really up to her,” Frank stated. “Does she want to practice tennis as hard as Joey practiced? We’ll have to see how it goes.”


The following cease for Joey Caraccio is UNC Wilmington, whereas Koontz heads to UNC.

Each have caught the tennis bug for all times. Each hope to play membership tennis in faculty.

Perhaps subsequent season, they’ll be squaring off yet another time.


All-Rowan County

State qualifiers

*Will Koontz, Salisbury (singles)

*Joey Caraccio, South (singles)

Colin Donaldson, Salisbury (doubles)

Grey Davis, Salisbury (doubles)

Regional qualifiers

Ryan Brady, East (doubles)

Gavin McDaniel, East (doubles)

Noah Steedley, South (singles)

Grayson Steedley, South (doubles)

Richard Gould, South (doubles)

James Anderson, Carson (singles)

Karson Sloop, Carson (doubles)

Noah Bardinas, Carson (doubles)

Kevin Williams, Salisbury (doubles)

Reid Hlavacek, Salisbury (doubles)


South’s Noah King. East’s Owen Kesler, West’s Max Brown, Salisbury’s Wyatt Goodnight

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