After over a decade-long absence, Hargrave Tennis returned to Fork Union Military Academy to face off against their Junior Prep squad. As an individual sport, a "scrimmage" at whatever level is often an adventure. Not only is there usual discovery of an opponent's talents and vulnerabilities, but the league or level on paper often does not correspond to the level of play seen on the courts! With 3 Tigers out of action, the outcome was anything but predictable.
Tiger wins were logged at #1 Singles (David Kiesnowski, Appleton, WI), #2 Singles (Luke Atkins, Raleigh, NC), #1 Doubles (Kiesnowski and Max Eskew, Wilmington, NC) - shortened due to time issues, and #3 Doubles (David Chen, Chiang Mai, Thailand and Mason Rucker, Matthews, NC).
Highlights include great matches at #1 Singles, #3 Singles, and #2 Doubles. At #1, HMA team co-captain Kiesnowski and Tyler Ackenbom battled along for 100 minutes (1:40). Both had similar playing styles, able to mix up solid groundstrokes, service, and net play. Kiesnowski slowly ground out a 4-1 lead in the same time that other singles matches had finished. Ackenbom came back to tie it up at 5-5. From there to 7-7, the battle continued with neither player losing serve despite the opponent contesting each game to deuce. With 90 minutes ticking over (and one of the second round of doubles matches completed!), Kiesnowski began what was to be the final 10 minute push to first break his opponent's serve and then hold his serve to finish out the match 9-7.
At #3 Singles and #2 Doubles, two Tiger heartbreakers were recorded. At #3 Singles Sebastian Richardson (Charlotte, NC) settled in for what looked to be a seesaw battle. The score slowly ratcheted up with Blue Devil K. Nguyen not relinquishing his one game lead until Richardson pulled even at 7-7. Two long games later, they were tied at 8-8 and the match moved to the tiebreaker format. The grinding continued with neither player wanting to go home without the victory. In the end, Richardson fell 8-9 (5-7). At #2 Doubles, Atkins fresh from a 8-1 victory on the singles side teamed up with Aidan Steinbach (Durham, NC) looking to recover from his singles loss. They faced two Blue Devils that had similarly split their respective singles matches. The Tigers pounced out to a 5-3 lead. The tide turned as FUMA's Williamson's confidence returned with a vengeance. Under the new pressure, the Tigers continued to battle, but the lead was slowly whittled down and when the dust settled, the Blue Devils were on top 7-9.
Again, the courts were used when available to give several players the opportunity to gain court experience in a venue away from the friendly confines of the Landon Tennis Center. Mason Rucker, Conner Henretta (Roanoke, VA), Tyler Medin (Chatham, VA), John Paul Kapp (Chatham, VA), Eryk King (Chatham, VA), and David Mueller (Miami, FL) were in exhibition matches.
Based on his determination, grit, and continued team leadership throughout a long afternoon, it is easy to name David Kiesnowski the HMA "Man of the Match"!