The Hargrave Tennis team opened their interscholastic season on Tuesday afternoon at the beautiful Landon Tennis Center with a 7-2 victory over conference opponent, Carlisle! Check out this recap below from Head Coach, Jim Tung!
The Tiger and Chief tennis squads were not deterred by the threat of rain to open their season at the Landon Tennis Center on the campus of Hargrave Military Academy. Both rosters were full of underclassmen ready to move from preseason activities to the action of regular season BRAC conference play. When the rain did finally fall on the courts, play had just finished with the Tigers emerging victorious, 7-2.
For those unfamiliar with the “pro set” match format, instead of playing multiple first-to-6-game sets, a single set is played with the winner being the player to first win 8 (or 10) games. It is often easy to lose sight of the effort, pressures, and small victories after a match is boiled down to a W/L or numerical score.
Coaches arrange their rosters into “ladders” of players, ranking them in order of competitiveness (1-6 for singles and 1-3 for doubles in our conference). It is a point of honor to match up the best players of each team against each other.
The players and Coaches Tung and Tyree would like to thank the faculty, staff, and cadets that dropped by the match to offer encouragement! The next match will be this Thursday, 3/30/23 as the Hargrave Tigers welcome Eastern Mennonite School to campus. Singles play should start at 4:30.
Summary of Individual Match Scores:
#1 – Jack Pittman v Will Vaughan W 8-3
#2 – Brady Ball v Hudson Bell W 8-3
#3 – Josh McGrail v Will Kirby L 1-8
#4 – Patrick Souza v Cole Bryant W 8-6
#5 – Thomas Whitmire v Owen Richardson W 8-4
#6 – Zachary Lu v Lucas Joqui W 8-1
#1 – Ball and Souza v Bell and Kirby W 9-7
#2 – Lu and Carson Pan v Vaughan and Bryant L 3-8
#3 – Daxton Alexander and Shiloh Saunders v Richardson and Joqui W 8-3
Singles Match Comments:
At #1 singles, newcomer 10th grader Jack Pittman (Carmel, IN) faced off against Will Vaughan. Despite a stretch of serve and overhead challenges, Pittman settled down to work around Vaughan’s determined efforts. His perseverance paid off as his arm loosened up and his shots started to land where intended as he brought in a 8-3 victory to log in his first BRAC singles victory as the top Tiger.
At #2 singles, returning 10th grader Brady Ball (Raleigh, NC) faced off against his opponent from last year, Hudson Bell. He was able to dig out of a potential hole as early match nerves resulted in Bell breaking Ball’s serve, making it 0-1 Bell. Ball broke Bell’s serve in turn and then held serve as his all-court game came together. When the dust settled, it was a 8-3 Tiger victory.
At #3 singles, new 10th grader Josh McGrail (Marshfield, MA) began his third varsity sport of the year. But the southern clime apparently still bedeviled the New Englander used to shoveling snow off the early season court. A determined Will Kirby outlasted McGrail who was searching to develop momentum by “playing through the challenges.” Unfortunately, the momentum never changed and he fell 1-8.
Third-year veteran and 10th grader Patrick Souza (Halifax, VA) continued to produce results with his smooth and positive attitude in the 4th singles line. He logged the longest match of the day with all of the players drifting over to watch him run through a series of deuce points that reflected the match see-saw as the score ratcheted up to 6-6. With neither Tiger nor Chief Core Bryant willing to give up, Souza worked through two deuce points to hold serve and go up 7-6. Another 8 minutes (a tennis game could theoretically be over in 4 points or around 2 minutes) of determined play, Souza emerged from the court with just a bashful smile and a 8-6 victory.
A player that was new to tennis last year opened with a solid performance in the 5th singles position. Thomas Whitmire (Wasilla, AK) started shaky, but from 1-2, rolled forward to put opponent Owen Richardson on the ropes 7-2. But Richardson refused to concede and Whitmire continued to battle to finally emerge 8-4.
Completing the singles ladder (all singles matches are played simultaneously) was another match featuring two tennis newcomers, 8th grader Zachary Lu (Redmond, WA) and Carlisle freshman Lucas Joqui. Lu was particularly complimented for his positive attitude, energy, and integrity in readily conceding points that he did not feel that he could confidently call “out” (and essentially calling points against himself; a rule of tennis that is often a challenge in the heat of battle).
Doubles Match Comments:
The scheduled #1 doubles team of Pittman and McGrail were withdrawn. The #2 doubles team of Ball and Souza moved up the ladder and took on Bell and Kirby. As with all higher level doubles, some exciting net play was exhibited as all players showed confidence at the net as seen as the willingness to attack any short shot and present a constant threat to poach a “safe groundstroke.” Ball and Souza found themselves up 5-3 before allowing the Carlisle duo to roll up to 6-7 and Carlisle serving to win the match. Ball and Souza continued to play confidently through a series of deuce points that inexorably increased the pressure. Breaking Carlisle’s serve kept the Tiger duo alive at 7-7 and with the momentum shift (and the threat of rain increasing by the minute), the Tigers pulled out a 9-7 victory.
At 3rd doubles, newcomers Daxton Alexander (Kalispell, MT) and Shiloh Saunders (Lower Gwynedd, PA) made their debut. Matched up against Richardson and Joqui, this group was a demonstration of the camaraderie of opponents that respect each other, the game, and the process of improvement. The start of the second round of serves found the Tigers down 2-3. But that’s where the Tigers not only pumped the brakes but then saw a way to lock up the wheels and completely reversed course to win 6 games and log in a 8-3 victory.
Exhibition Match Comments:
No exhibition matches were available; several less experienced players will have the opportunity to play either exhibition matches against larger teams or see competition at the JV level (to add to their experience at the three “developing player” tournaments earlier this season).
Hargrave Men of the Match:
For their demonstrated perseverance across both singles and doubles formats, Brady Ball and Patrick Souza were the clear choice to be the Hargrave Men of the Match.