By Dave Mast
Give Jason Otto’s crew credit.
The Knights, down to just six total players on this year’s tennis team, could phone it in. They could moan and complain about not having enough players to field a complete team. They could use excuses like they have four players on this year’s squad who have next to no tennis experience.
Instead, they choose to hang tough, and that attitude paid off in a 4-1 win over Mansfield Madison Tuesday, April 14 at West Holmes High School.
Every single Knight who took the court came away from the evening’s activities with a win.
“Coming into this year, I wasn’t sure if we could win a match,” said Otto. “That’s not a knock on our kids. It’s just being honest. We have four new kids who haven’t played before, and we go into every match having to forfeit one match. That puts us behind the eight ball right there.
“To have won two matches already without seven guys says a lot about these guys.”
Ethan Meyer took the first singles match by a 6-0, 6-0 count, in a dominant performance. Andrew Rodhe continued his strong play with a 6-0, 6-0 win at second singles. The forfeit came at third singles, but Nathan Hartley and Eric Blitzdef rolled to a 6-2, 6-0 win at first singles.
The most exciting match of the night came down to second doubles, where Jason Abraham and John Hipp put forth a tremendous effort to eke out a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-4 10-5 thriller, Abraham making a stupendous shot to close out there match, pumping his fist in excitement after it sailed past Madison’s two players.
“That was a great match and a great win for them,” said Otto of his second doubles tandem. “They’ve worked at this and deserve to experience a win like that.”
The win was a much-needed one for Meyer, who has faced some incredible talent at first singles this season, and hasn’t seen a lot of wins despite playing quite well.
“Ethan has had a tough start to the sea on because Central’s number one is tough, New Phila’s is tough, Cloverleaf’s guy is really good,” said Otto. “But Ethan has battled hard, and it was nice to see him have some success tonight.”
Andrew Rodhe has been the most successful Knight, going 6-2 after his win against Madison.
“After going from doubles his first three years to second singles, he has been really impressive,” said Otto of Rodhe.
Now, Cameron Crider should be back from an eight game suspension, giving West Holmes the seventh player it needs to compete with a full squad.
That alone should give the Knights (2-4) a renewed sense of confidence and a spring in their step, knowing they don’t have to forfeit one match every night out.