SYRACUSE – Bound and determined, Wawasee was going to get in its boys tennis match Tuesday evening with Central Noble. Using its entire JV roster, several squeegies, brooms and whatever else the team could find in the shelter, a lot of afternoon rain gave way to elbow grease and some hustle.
Playing until nearly sunset, Wawasee labored for a 3-2 win over Central Noble, but was glad to get the match in given the setup the team has this week.
Starting play at 6:15 p.m., a good 105 minutes after the scheduled start of 4:30 p.m., both sides settled into what became fairly long court battles. After 90 minutes of play, Wawasee led 2-1 in court wins, but needed Cal Heinisch to close out a pesky Mason Krueger 6-1, 7-5 to finally seal the win. All the while, the two doubles courts raged on, playing well past 8:30 p.m. to conclude play.
“This was just a good match for us to play to get back into the swing with a few days off the last week,” Wawasee head coach Vince Rhodes said, whose team had not played since last Wednesday. “With Plymouth tomorrow, we needed to work on some things, notably our aggressiveness.”
That line of play was seen on two of Wawasee’s early wins. Nate Perek at three singles showed a lot of promise in a one and two win against Tanner Rose. Perek began to hit the ball harder as the match went on, and buried a lot of Rose’s lazy returns for easy points.
The one doubles duo of Jake Hutchinson and Todd Hauser also looked to have broken from its early shell, rolling to a one and one win against Caleb Harlon and Reggie Porter. Hutchinson led the duo with several aces and Hauser showed some grit from the backline with a series of nice backhand winners.
Heinisch, who fell into the ping pong trap Krueger wanted to play at one singles, finally began pounding home winners late, much to the delight of Rhodes.
“Cal knew he should have put his match away sooner than he did, but he started to show signs of taking a step forward,” Rhodes said.
Nate Haines fell to Ethan Van Wagner at two singles 6-4, 6-2. Van Wagner took advantage of open spaces Haines left unattended to take control of the court.
Tom Hayes and Trey Phillips of Central Noble earned the second win with a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 marathon over Brayton Fretz and Derek Stutzman.
With Plymouth on deck Wednesday, a makeup from last Thursday’s rainout, Rhodes felt his kids took a step in the right direction with the perennial conference powerhouses waiting in Marshall County. Following the NLC opener, West Noble will visit Thursday in a rematch of the preseason scrimmage two weeks ago.
“We’re going from not-so-hard hitters to really hard hitters,” Rhodes said. “Tonight took so long because we fell back into playing their game, hitting soft shots and not taking control of shots. Our focus coming in was to hit harder and end these matches a lot faster. We’ll need to ramp it up tomorrow for sure.”
The night had no JV contests. Matches in Plymouth will start at 4:45 p.m.