SYRACUSE — It all came down to one. One singles, that is.
Thursday night’s Northern Lakes Conference tennis tilt between Wawasee and visiting Memorial was as tight as could be. As four of the five varsity courts finished up, the two teams found themselves in a 2-2 tie. The match would be decided by the results at the No. 1 singles court. Wawasee was lifted to its first NLC win as Dylan Staley defeated Brandon Bailey in three sets.
Staley fell behind early, losing the first set to Bailey 7-6, 7-3 in the tiebreaker. The Warrior junior bounced back for a 6-4 win in the second set. In the third set, with his teammates watching, Staley sealed the win for himself and his team with a 6-2 triumph. But, it wasn’t without some drama as Staley struggled at times. The junior found himself frustrated with, well, himself.
“I get frustrated a lot,” Staley admitted. “It’s who I am, I guess. I get frustrated easily with myself and the match. But, I had my teammates behind me tonight, cheering me on. I think, honestly, that’s what made the difference for me tonight.”
Wawasee coach Vince Rhodes was waiting for Staley to find that edge.
“Dylan, you’ve just got to get him mad to play,” Rhodes stated. “It’s one of those things, if you get him aggravated a little bit, he’s all about it. Once he gets in that zone, he’s great. It’s just about getting him to that zone. It’s about getting him to move those feet. He’ll hit that deep backhand shot and, if he’s patient, he’ll get to the net and put it away.”
Wawasee earned wins on the other two singles courts as well.
At No. 2 singles it was Nate Haines picking up a 6-1, 6-0 win over Mike Troyer. Nate Perek defeated Bradley Melendez 6-0, 6-1 on the No. 3 singles court.
“We really stepped it up on our singles courts tonight,” Rhodes said. “Obviously with Dylan at one but Haines is really starting to turn it around and you can see the confidence that Perek plays with. It was a good night for our singles players.”
On the one doubles court it was Memorial’s Justin Walter and Brett Wilson winning 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 over Tim Conley and Evan Krueger. At two doubles Gram Perek and Mason Gray fell 6-3, 6-2 to Tryston Swartz and Dylan Lundgren.
Wawasee now stands at 7-7 overall and 1-5 in Northern Lakes Conference play. The Warriors travel to NorthWood next week before heading into the conference tournament.
Wawasee’s JV won 4-1. Jacob Krugman, Noah Wilson and Josh Slabaugh all picked up wins on the singles courts while Brady Robinson and Jake Cowan were winners at No. 1 doubles.