Knights overcome Hawks, Titans and the cold to win Hiland Invite

Cold but happy winners of the Hiland tennis invitational

Tennis isn’t really meant to be a cold-weather game, but sometimes when spring high school sports roll around and Old Man Winter isn’t cooperating, you just have to roll with the punches.

On Saturday, April 28 at the Hiland Invitational, the visiting teams from West Holmes and Triway joined host Hiland in competing against one another as well as with the frigid temperature.

Although the fourth team of Coshocton expected to compete in the invitational pulled out, the three teams who did venture to the five courts on the south side of Hiland High School went at it pretty good and put together an excellent tournament that was filled with possibilities as it remained close throughout the day.

The whole shebang came down to the final match left on the court, where Triway and Hiland’s first doubles teams battled for victory. If Hiland would have won, it would have sent the coaches scrambling into the rule book to decide the winner on tie-breakers. Instead, the Triway duo of Chase Chargulaf and Nicholas Noble came out on top, and that allowed West Holmes to maintain its lead. The Knights eventually took home a win with six total points, sneaking past Hiland’s five and Triway’s four.

Both teams produced winners in what was an evenly matched day of tennis.

“The possibility of the tie-breaker starts with the number of winners, and had Hiland won that final doubles match, we both would have had two,” West Holmes coach Jason Otto said. “From there I think we would have gone head to head, and I think we beat them 3-2, so we would have won anyway, but I’m glad we didn’t have to go there.”

At first singles Curtis Wagner of West Holmes grabbed the title, playing solid tennis all day long. His teammate Megan Morrison also grabbed gold at third singles, where she has been a consistent winner all season long.

“She’s only lost one match all season,” Otto said. “She has been extremely consistent all year, as has been Curtis.”

He said on cold days like this, it is extremely important that you push the weather to the back of your mind and stay focused on the task at hand.

For Triway the invitational came on the tail end of back-to-back performances, and head coach Andy Redd said his team played a little tired.

“We have not had back-to-back days once this spring, thanks to the weather, so that was something new for us,” Redd said. “It’s a nice challenge for us to see what we are made of, and I thought we did fine. I am thrilled that we are getting better and better every day.”

Hiland head coach Bert Jones said it was disappointing that Coshocton canceled at such a late date that didn’t allow the Hawks to find a fill-in, but he said the invite still provided a chance for all three teams to showcase their talent and to have a spirited day that left the outcome uncertain until the very end.

The Hawks had a pair of winners in second singles with John Sisson and at second doubles, where Scott Troyer and Terrell Gingerich took the top spot.

He said seeing the team numbers go from eight last year to 14 this season has helped his team become instantly more competitive, especially because some of the influx of talent are athletic.

“Getting a couple of new kids who are athletic has helped,” Jones said. “Scott hasn’t played his entire life, but he is a terrific athlete and can do a lot of things out of instinct. Jordan Yoder (at first doubles with Pat Miller) is another good athlete who has come in during his senior year and been a plus.”

While April was a horrendous month for all of the area’s spring sports teams and athletes, much like these tennis players did on this day, they battled through and made the most of it, and the Knights were able to take home a championship trophy, which always warms the heart at least a little bit to help overcome the cold.

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