“This season we’ve grown a lot together,” Monzavifar said. “I think we both fit each other’s strengths. I might not have the biggest serve, but he has one. And then I might not have the best forehand, but he does. So we’re able to complement each other where he can take forehand side, I can take backhand side.”
And all of this – without a loss – in the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference champion Dragons’ first year as a program? The season ended on a 16-1 roll.
“I think as a first-year program, it’s super exciting to even make it this deep in dual-team,” Monzavifar said. “But we’re here to win it.”
“They just pull together and help each other out,” NCSSM-Morganton coach Wayne Giese added. “They’re really good at coaching each other. They can see when one of their teammates is not doing something and they’ll help correct him. It’s just team, team, team.”
“At the end of the day, if my strokes break down first, I’m losing the point,” Monzavifar said. “I got pulled wide and I’d just slice it back to him over and over again. And the more I grind and make him hit, the more likely I am to win the point. That was the entire match.”
For Giese, 76, this playoff run has been extra special. It’s the longest one he’s led a team on as a head tennis coach spanning all five current county high school programs and dating back to the 1990s.
“This has been the highlight,” he said. “I’ve had to pay my dues I guess through the years and all, but this is the highlight. These guys are on a different level. Their dedication, their skill, it all comes together, and it’s great to watch. It’s a little nerve-racking in matches like this where you don’t know for sure what’s going to become of it. But we’re there. And we’re going to keep on going as long as we can.”
NCSSM-M also on May 10 had three athletes compete at the NCHSAA 1A individual state championships at Cary Tennis Park. It was the largest number of state qualifiers from any Burke County tennis program – joining the Lady Dragons’ three from this past fall – since at least 2009.

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