The varsity pulled out an at times tense 4-1 victory today over the Trojans. Meanwhile, the JV lost two close matches at the top singles and doubles spots, and thus ending up falling 2-4.
In the varsity match, I have to start with the sparkling display put on by Bruin #1, Ben Mast. Facing sophomore Jeff Ross, a lefty with big strokes and big play ability, Ben played absolutely brilliant. He played only 38 minutes, zipping through a 6-1, 6-0 victory with winner after winner and giving Ross none. It seemed that every big shot was answered, every attempt to attack was thwarted. And the quick victory gave us a 1-0 lead in the team match.
But any thought of a quick team victory was short lived. At #2 singles, Nate Brendle played his second match filling in for a resting Seth Krabill, who's been struggling a big with sore legs. On a windy day, Nate had trouble finding his stroke and paid the price against another sophomore, Pete Kauffman. Soon after Ben earned his victory, the team match was tied as Nate lost.
But in terms of the team, all still looked well. Blake Shetler had won the first set of #3 singles and was up 4-1 in the second. #2 doubles, Russell Klassen and Evan Grimes, had won a 6-3 first set. The #1 doubles team of Kyle Miller and Matt Ebersole had stormed out of the gate to take a 4-0 lead in the first, before the Trojans picked it up and made it a close set. But we still took the first set. So team tied 1-1, we were ahead a set at all 3 remaining positions.
But just like that things got tight. Russell and Evan, who controlled much of the first set from the net, began to have problems keeping the ball in play. The Trojans took a second set lead in that match and it looked to be headed to a third set. At #1 doubles, Triton continued their good play from the end of the first and took a 5-4 lead in the second set. That match too appeared headed to three. And Blake's match was suddenly tied at 4-4. Everything was too close.
But Blake turned things around quickly. He began attacking before his opponent, junior Jackson Downing, could. And in doing so he controlled the point. After taking 5-4 lead, he went back and forth at deuce, having 3 or 4 opportunities to close the match before a Downing forehand sailed long.
And #1 doubles turned things around as well. After having the early lead in the first set and watching it evaporate, they had become very tentative. Down 5-4 in the second, my advice was simple, "Too the aggressive go the spoils." Immediately they picked up their intensity. They won 2 games in a row to take the 6-5 lead before the Trojans held serve to force a tiebreak.
Last year, Kyle Miller and Austin Loucks had clinched the match against Triton for us in a third set tiebreak. This year Kyle and Matt looked set to do it again. Matt began the tiebreak with an aggressive serve down the middle, drawing a backhand return error. Then two solid returns set up easy points for the Bruins and we took a 3-0 lead. On Kyle's serve we went to 4-0 then 5-0. Another big return from Kyle forced an error and we had 6 match points. Matt pounded a huge forehand return into the net before serving out the match.
Moments after it looked like 3 third setters would decide the match, we had pulled it out and held a 3-1 team advantage. But #2 doubles did head into the third set. Russell and Evan struggled to stay positive, taking a 2-0 lead in the third before giving up three straight. They tied the match 3-3, then had several chances to take a 4-3 lead but didn't convert. But then Evan held his serve, and that was the catalyst for the Bruins. Playing great aggressive tennis, they won 3 games straight to win the match in the third.
Meanwhile, the JV matches were going on. Andrew Snyder was in the most consistent match that I've seen played at the JV level in a long time. Rallies in the match last 20, 30, 40 - even 53 - shots. And the match was taking just as long. In a JV, 8 game pro set, the match was pushing an hour and a half, or twice as long as Ben's varsity match! At different points the players took turns being the aggressor. The 53 stroke rally point was actually ended by Andrew hitting a backhand approach shot and a putaway volley. It was fun to watch. Unfortunately, Andrew ended up losing 6-8.
The other JV singles were similar. We played well but didn't have enough to put the match away. The JV doubles however, were different. We picked up 2 wins in the doubles spots, with "Tower of Power" Wade Troyer picking up yet another win, this time with partner Josh Helmuth. Himal King and Joel Gerig picked up the other doubles point. In another close doubles match reminiscent of the varsity doubles, Abe Thorne and Ryan Minter lost 6-8.
So we won another match on varsity, lost another at the JV. It was good to see close varsity doubles matches, and have us come out on top today. It gave us really good practice playing under pressure and for the most part I thought we responded and "battled" well. My hope is that this leads well into the Westview match, where we will have to play well throughout to win. Happy Labor Day weekend to all!
#1S - Ben Mast - 6-1, 6-0 - Jeff Ross (10)
#2S - Nate Brendle - 2-6, 1-6 - Pete Kauffman (10)
#3S - Blake Shetler - 6-1, 6-4 - Jackson Downing (11)
#1D - Kyle Miller/Matt Ebersole - 7-5, 7-6 (1) - Jordan Everett (12)/Austin Davis (12)
#2D - Russell Klassen/Evan Grimes - 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 - Josh Shafer (11)/Clay Yeo (10)
#1SJV - Andrew Snyder - 6-8 - Dean Howdeshell (9)
#2SJV - Parth Patel - 4-8 - Lucas Shafer (9)
#3SJV - Justin Zehr - 1-6 - Lucas Shafer (9)
#1DJV - Ryan Minter/Abe Thorne - 6-8 - Darrin Harrell (9)/Jack Oldham (9)
#2DJV - Wade Troyer/Josh Helmuth - 8-4 - Chase Eyrich (9)/Aaron Stevens (10)
#3DJV - Himal King/Joel Gerig - 6-1 - Chase Eyrich (9)/Aaron Stevens (10)