BREMEN – If tennis had a halftime, NorthWood would have needed some kind of rallying speech.
Trailing 1-0 on four of five courts and down in the second set in all of them, NorthWood managed to come back and win three of the four courts to escape Bremen with a 3-2 boys tennis win Wednesday afternoon at DeSantis Courts.
NorthWood head coach Tif Schwartz, who didn’t give any sort of Knute Rockne speech, instead stood in both disbelief and amazement as her team played the equivalent of two entirely different tennis matches. With the match being replayed from Tuesday’s rain out, Schwartz was candid on possibly why her team was so lethargic to start.
“If we would have had a match yesterday given the way we practiced yesterday, anyone would have beaten us,” Schwartz stated. “So credit to Bremen, they really took it to us. We were down on ourselves in a lot of the spots. It took us getting some points, which raised the attitudes, and it seemed to get us going. That’s definitely a key for us, and will be something we talk about going forward.”
Whatever the push was to get her courts going, it took a while. So much so, that Bremen actually held a 2-0 lead in court wins after its two doubles team of Brett Yelaska and Mariano DeLeon made quick work of Bryce Harner and Treyton Martin 6-3, 6-1, then shortly thereafter, Dawson Hickman put away Chase Horner 6-2, 6-2 at three singles.
As Bremen held the two-court advantage, it was bearing down on a third on two different courts. That’s where the tide, for whatever reason, changed for the Panthers.
Most notable came at one doubles, where Jack Wysong and Landon Holland were trailing 2-1 in the second set but caught fire at the right time. The Panther duo not only rattled off four straight games, but got their swagger back in doing so, and by hitting smart shots for winners. After losing the tiebreaker in the first set to Shay Kyser and Mason Porter, Wysong, the birthday boy, and Holland won the second set 6-3, then became center court in the third set as their wrap up of 6-2 put a candle in the cake.
“When Jack and Landon come together and talk, it’s a very important part of their game,” Schwartz said. “With Landon coming in from singles play last year, it’s going to take those two talking to stay in sync. I reminded them that they had to play their style, not just to the potential of getting the ball into play. They needed to play their game.”
A hobbled Wes Troyer at one singles looked all but done against Mark Bahr. The Lion junior figured out Troyer wasn’t very mobile in dealing with a foot injury and made his winners a virtual spray chart. That continued into the second set after a 6-2 first set winner, but Troyer isn’t the No. 1 for nothing, and dug down deep to coax a 6-4 score with smart decisions on limited movement. Much of the same in the third as the NorthWood senior put away Bahr 6-4.
“Watching Wes was hard, it was hard to watch,” offered Schwartz. “Wow. To watch him come back like that and win, wow. I have no words.”
Ben Vincent at No. 2 was the only Panther to not start out behind the eight ball. Several of his fleet-footed attempts in the first set against Carson Miller led to unforced errors into the net and deep, but Miller made enough errors mixed into Vincent’s forehand winners. As Vincent settled in, his comfort level rose and so did the points on the other side of the net, as Vincent would complete a 6-3, 6-4 score.
The ‘Pink’ Panthers, donning pink in a show of unity against cancer this season, move to 5-0 overall. Schwartz noted play like Wednesday won’t bode well with Northern Lakes Conference play squarely on the horizon, beginning Thursday at Elkhart Memorial, then two huge duals next week against Plymouth and Goshen.
“There is no way we can start like tonight and expect to make up any ground in the NLC,” stated Schwartz. “If we play like we did tonight, Memorial is going to beat us. And certainly with what we have coming up next week. We have to come out sharper and with more purpose.”