So far, Beneck looks to be in good shape to have that chance. He won 6-0, 6-1 Friday afternoon against Tower Hill junior Nolan Bacchieri, his semifinal opponent last season when Beneck won a second straight state title at first singles.
In the team battle Friday, the fifth-ranked Hillers knocked off the fourth-ranked Quakers 3-2, winning at third singles plus both doubles matches.
Beneck has played first singles since his freshman season. His career record is 52-1, the loss sustained as a freshman in the 2007 state championship. Set to attend University of the Delaware in the fall, Beneck is attempting to be the third player to win three straight boys first singles state titles.
Adjusting to windy conditions on his home court, Beneck won four games over both sets at love but his win was not a breeze. Six of the games went to deuce and Beneck came back from a love-30 deficit four times.
Beneck led 15-7 in winners.
"There was a lot of difficulty serving, with the wind," Beneck said. "So, I really felt I had to step up my return game. [Bacchieri] was pretty consistent and I had to play aggressive to get him on defense. He played really well from the baseline but left a couple balls short, so I had to take advantage of that ... [and] I just hit more spin and played a bit safer, just because if you try and hit through the wind you're going to get killed."
Friends coach Jack Rowell said Beneck is not one to assume he'll just be a state champ again. "He's the top player in the state but that doesn't matter to him," Rowell said. "He works hard and he's a good role model for the rest of the kids on the team."
Tower Hill freshman Chris Martinez won at third singles.
First doubles was the only match to go three sets. Tower Hill's Konnor Houff and Brian Felzer split the first two sets with Friends' Michael Leff and Richie Monsaert. Leading the third set 3-2, Houff and Felzer twice broke their opponents' serve in winning the final three games.
Ryan Bosse and Zach Rosen won at second doubles as Tower Hill (2-1, 2-1) bounced back from a loss Wednesday to Tatnall.
Friends (0-2, 0-2) has opened its season with two 3-2 losses, the other coming Tuesday to defending state champ St. Andrew's. In both showdowns, the Quakers' wins were at first and second singles -- Beneck and senior Ryan McGeehan.
Contact Buddy Hurlock at email@example.com.
Reprinted with permission of the News Journal