“Hey, Coach, when will my doubles match start?”
That’s a common (and good question). In VIC tennis, that usually means about an hour later after the singles matches are at least partially completed. Generally, a singles point is over in around 8 seconds. Minimum of 4 points per game. Minimum of 10 games in a single match. Do the math and an hour seems impossible to fill. But that doesn’t take into consideration the need to win a game by a 2 point advantage and to win the match by a 2 game advantage.
And with the distribution of talent and experience at high school levels, stories generally focus on the wins (and we don’t want to minimize those). But one of the best tennis matches in recent Hargrave history occurred today at the Landon Tennis Center. Hargrave’s #1 singles player, David Kiesnowski (Appleton, WI) battled against New Covenant School’s (Lynchburg, VA) Logan Duncan over a 2.5 hour period.
The play began rather oddly. The players opened a new can of tennis balls to find them completely flat! Then on Kiesnowski’s last warm-up hit, he snapped a string and needed to borrow a racket. But from then on, neither player was willing to give up a point with every game going to multiple deuce points. Kiesnowski jumped out to a quick lead, breaking Duncan’s serve to go up 2-0 before Duncan held, broke back, and held serve to finally take a 3-4 lead as the last regular singles match finished and exhibition matches got underway with the team match clock having ticked over an hour. As each player held serve and contested each game, the score slowly climbed to 7-9 with Duncan trying to slam the door on the match as the 2 hour mark crept up (and the doubles matches ended).
With the match in jeopardy and Duncan pressing hard to either break or hold at deuce to decide the match, Kiesnowski ground his way to win 3 games to first tie the match and then serving for the match at 10-9. Two tough rallies full of gritty full-court attack by both players saw Kiesnowski down love-30. But he somehow brought the score back to a deuce. On the third and out, it looked like the tank might have been empty and the match score rested at 10-10 as Duncan finally halted his slide. The match would have to be decided with a tie-breaker format. At 3-3, Duncan fired off an ace to take the lead 4-3. But Kiesnowski fought back to 4-6 and then served at match-point to make the score 5-6. It was fitting that the match ended on another great rally and demonstration of solid all-court tennis as Duncan served out the point for the win.
The line score is below, but the other notable matches were Sam Wilkerson’s return to play at #3 singles after a frustrating loss the previous week at #4 singles against EHMS. Richardson’s match saw a resurgence after a 4-0 lead, but he closed out the tightest singles match with a handy 10-4 score that didn’t reflect the grit demonstrated by Tiger Richardson (Charlotte, NC) and Gryphon Wilson. Finally, John Ratchford (Charlotte, NC) made his debut in Varsity Tennis competition with partner Mason Rucker (Matthews, NC) at #3 doubles with a 8-3 win. On the “growing the future” side of things, Max Eskew (Wilmington, NC), Connor Henretta (Roanoke, VA), Dave Mueller (Miami, FL), Tyler Medlin (Chatham, VA), and John Paul Kapp (Chatham, VA) were able to get in exhibition play against an equally enthusiastic New Covenant squad.
Man of the Match:
In an afternoon of good tennis, it was impossible to ignore the great tennis at #1 singles. In recognition of his determination and great sportsmanship in a tough 2.5 hour battle, David Kiesnowski is Hargrave’s Man of the Match.
– Dr. Jim Tung, Academic Dean & Head Tennis Coach
Image credit: Cadet John Ratchford ’22