WHS tennis team victorious at regionalsPublished 11:48am Saturday, June 1, 2013
Throughout time there have been some classic underdog victories. Another such upset took place in the regional boys tennis tournament held Thursday at the Howard Mast tennis complex in Suffolk.
The teams competing in the finals were Rappahannock High School from the Northern Neck district and Windsor High School from the Tri-Rivers District. Rappahannock was the defending regional champion and undefeated this year. That team was laden with veteran players, including three seniors. Their forte as a team were players with powerful serves and excellent ground strokes.
Windsor High School on the other hand was composed of only one senior, two juniors, two sophomores, with one never having played tennis until this year, and two freshmen. Along with Rappahannock’s experience in regional and state play last year, Windsor had not won a match against Rappahannock since Windsor’s senior, Cody Reese was a freshman.
The last meeting between the two teams earlier this year saw Windsor lose by a score of 7-2. Coach Matt Randall took the opportunity to videotape each individual match so he could dissect each point and provide a game plan for the regional showdown.
In tennis matches, a team plays six single and three double matches. The team that wins five matches of the nine contests is the winner.
Before match play began, Coach Randall met with his young team and reminded them of the hard work they have endured and that the prize was there for the taking.
The players heeded his advice with four of the six players from Windsor winning their first sets. Team captain Kyle Hollowell, Windsor’s number one seed, decimated his opponent in the first set by a score of 6-0 and was able to close out his match by winning his second set as well, giving Windsor their first team point.
Number two seed from Windsor, Ethan Bales, won his first set as well and then outlasted his opponent in a three-set thriller. Freshman Bales used laser-like precision groundstrokes to paint the lines and hit consistent serves to defeat his adversary.
Senior Cody Reese, Windsor’s number three seed, lost a three-hour heartbreaking contest in a three-set tiebreaker. Number five seed, Derek Klausmeier won an exciting three-set match to give Windsor a three-to-two lead. Klausmeier was able to win by being in position on every play and dominating at the net by slamming several volleys for winners.
Freshman Stephen Hurst, the number six seed, was now locked in as the pivotal match of the day. With Windsor holding a narrow lead of 3-2,
Rappahannock could tie up the match at 3-3 if Hurst was unsuccessful. Hurst lost the first set, but was able to come back and win the last two sets in a hard-fought melee that saw both combatants run down shot after shot in a roller coaster ride of emotions and turning points in game play. Hurst used well-placed dink shots, lobs, and spread his opponent out on the court to win.
At the same time that Hurst was playing, the number one doubles play had began with Hollowell and Daniel Klausmeier from Windsor against Brandon
Wiseman and Chris France from Rappahannock. On Wednesday, the Windsor team had lost the Regional doubles championship to Rappahannock and now were looking to avenge that loss. Hollowell used explosive serves and Klausemeier used well-placed volleys to take the lead in the first set. On set point, Hollowell hit a racket crushing forehand bullet winner to give Windsor their first set 6-1. During the second set play was evenly matched, until Hollowell and Klausmeier heard a roar from the Windsor fans from
Hurst’s court, which let them know that Hurst had won. This now gave Windsor a 4-2 lead.
Hollowell and Klausmeier, inspired by the roar and now having a chance to close out the match, went on a tear, winning point after point by hitting a variety of shots. Whatever the situation called for, whether it was a down-the-line winner or a cross-court volley, the Windsor tandem did not fail to execute. Maurice Bynum, at this time stated the Latin phrase, carpe diem, which means seize the day. That day was here and Windsor did not disappoint by closing out their match by a second set score of 6-3. Final score 5-2 in favor of Windsor.
Coach Randall, who was hired this year to teach Latin, is a fiery coach, who from the beginning of the season informed the players and parents that he had been part of winning traditions as a player and as a coach and that he could bring that to Windsor. After the match, Coach Randall, stated that he was proud of his team because they had worked hard and had followed their game strategy. He further said that the key to success in high school tennis is conditioning and executing your shots. This formula was apparent in the Hurst match in the third set. Doing the court change over, the Rappahannock player was apparently succumbing to the extreme heat and the relentless play of his opponent, by sitting down on the court. Randall began yelling at Hurst to “toe the line,” which means get to the service line and begin serving. The conditioning of Hurst proved monumental in winning the match. Randall does not believe in cancelling practice for rain, he takes the opportunity to condition his players by running them in the gym and working on developing strategies for upcoming matches.
Randall has taken a group of players — many of them novices — to the game and has shaped them. He has stacked each individual in a pyramid format so that each could be united in a team effort to maximize the intensity of the heat that the Dukes bring to the court. With the Dukes stunning upset in the Regional Finals, they are ready for their next challenge at the state finals that to be held in Radford from Thursday, June 6 to Saturday, June 8.