TIM PEELER: Weinacker Aids Men's Tennis Rise
BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH, N.C. When it came time for Jay Weinacker to choose a college, he remembered the words NC State tennis coach Jon Choboy spoke to him as a high school sophomore.“He said he could develop me into a very good player,” Weinacker said. “At the end of my junior career, I had moved up in the ITA rankings and I might have been able to go to some bigger schools. But I think I would have come here regardless, because I love Coach Choboy’s philosophy.
“He has made me a better player. I am much better already than I ever thought I could be.”The sophomore from Birmingham, Ala., has helped transform the Wolfpack’s developing program. The No. 27 Wolfpack, with its highest ranking in school history, has never been to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen, but advanced to this point by recording the first post-season wins in school history last week in Chapel Hill, N.C, beating William & Mary 4-0 in the first round and then pulling off a jaw-dropping 4-0 win over arch-rival North Carolina in the second round. It was the Wolfpack’s first win over UNC in men’s tennis since 1988.
The Wolfpack (22-9) will face No. 11 Texas (20-8) Thursday in Athens, Ga., in the NCAA Tournament’s third round. It’s exactly the place Choboy hoped to be when he brought in players like William Noblitt, Nick Cavaday and Weinacker in his last three recruiting classes.“Coach told me when he recruited me Hey, I am bringing you in to help take this program to the next level,’” Weinacker said. “I am fortunate that he saw that in me and he believed in me. I have so much confidence in myself. It is a huge honor to take the team to the next level and hopefully have this team competing for a national championship.
“It’s a huge feeling of satisfaction.”Just five years ago, when Choboy arrived at NC State, there were only four players on the Wolfpack roster. The coach held an open tryout on campus to find one player and brought in another recruit in January to be able to field a full team. But it was an uphill battle for a program that had not had a winning overall record since 1988 before Choboy’s arrival.
Weinacker’s impressive performance over the last two years has given the Wolfpack another talented player on what has become a deep and talented roster of 10 players. In just two seasons, Weinacker has notched 43 spring victories for the Wolfpack, including a school-record 23 last season. All 23 victories were in straight sets. He’s 20-5 so far this season, heading into Thursday’s match with the Longhorns.
Weinacker came to NC State with impeccable credentials, even if Alabama isn’t necessarily the country’s top junior tennis hotbed. He helped Mountain Brook High School win four consecutive Alabama Class 6A state championships during his career, winning three doubles titles and two individual titles for himself. By the time he graduated, he was the USTA’s No. 1 ranked player in the nine-state South Region.Choboy first saw Weinacker at a junior tournament and immediately liked his passion for the game.
“I wanted to keep an eye on him because he was a guy who had a lot of energy on the court,” Choboy said. “You have to work hard to find that in tennis, because everyone is taught to be quiet. Having that ability to have that energy is important for us.”Choboy, who has turned the Wolfpack program around in his five years at the helm, had high expectations for Weinacker when he arrived. Weinacker, who is 9-1 while playing in the No. 3 position and 20-5 overall this season, has exceeded them.
“We projected where he would be after he got here and he is actually ahead of schedule,” Choboy said.And the team, with Weinacker anchoring the middle of the lineup, is moving up the rankings, just as Choboy predicted.
“We are getting better and better and taking bigger jumps,” Weinacker said. “That’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”You may contact Tim Peeler at firstname.lastname@example.org.