SYRACUSE — A short-handed Wawasee boys tennis squad opened its season with a 5-0 loss to a veteran Manchester lineup Monday night. But regardless of the result, both coaches were happy just to get out their teams out and playing someone else.
“We can play challenge matches, and we can train in the offseason — not that a lot of the boys have trained — but when you don’t get your match play in that’s totally different,” said first-year Wawasee boys head coach Shane Staley. “They play differently. It’s nice to see so we can make those corrections in training and try to get them to play a little bit more like they train because a lot of them are a lot better players than when they get out in match play.”
“It was nice to get out of practice and be able to play another school,” Manchester coach Calvin Sellers said. “In practice, it’s one thing, but to see how you actually do out in a match is a totally different thing. With the leadership and the seven seniors that we have, they came out confident, knowing what to expect, and they took control early and never backed off on the intensity.”
The closest match of the evening came at 2 doubles, where Graham Perek extended Manchester’s Spence Trick to 12 games in the first set. Trick’s adjustments proved too much for Perek in the second set, however, and he completed the shutout in straight sets with a 7-5, 6-0 win.
“Spence had a little bit of difficulty dealing with his opponent’s consistency at the beginning, but Spence is a smart player so he adapted well. Once it started clicking, he took control and started moving a little bit more and he never looked back after that,” Sellers said.
“Execution, unforced errors, usually that’s kind of the junior tennis stake in the heart right there. Got to clean it up,” said Staley.
Zach Leedy took two games from Squires number one Luke Donathan en route to a 6-2, 6-2 loss, while Zeke Keim fell 0-0 to Quinn Martin at the 3 singles position. Jacob Krugman and Clayton Firestone suffered a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Kyle Shepherd and Brady Wiley at 1 doubles, and Blaine Baut and Jeb Richey lost another 1-0 decision to Logan Parrett and Kamdyn Lester at 2 doubles, playing up from Wawasee’s JV as a full five of the Warriors’ 13 players were forced to sit out the meet due to not yet meeting the IHSAA’s required 10 practices.
“It’s early in the season, and we’re playing a lot of people out of position. Two JV kids playing up there in varsity, they had no idea they’d be varsity this soon, but we had like five people that didn’t qualify for practices. We’re just kind of bumping people up,” explained Staley.
“We definitely had to alter our varsity lineup quite a bit for tonight.”
Monday’s match was Staley’s debut at the head of the boys program. Also the Lady Warriors’ head coach, Staley takes the reigns from Vince Rhodes, who moved into an assistant coaching position with the Warriors.
“It’s different coaching girls and then coming to coach boys. It’s way different in how you actually go about your coaching and your mindset and everything. But it’s nice to actually be playing in the fall. It’s nice weather. You can’t beat this; I wish we had more of this in the girls’ season,” said Staley with a laugh.
“It’s nice to see a different team and be out there and start working with them and growing another type of program. I think we’ve got a good foundation with the freshmen to actually start to grow a program. It’s going to take time, though.”
Also Monday, Wawasee’s JV fell 2-0 to their Manchester counterparts.
Wawasee hosts Lakeland on Wednesday. Manchester plays its home-opener with Maconaquah Thursday.