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Falcons split with Northwest Conference tennis foes
LANGLEY — In a battle of the birds, the Falcons came out with their feathers unruffled.
Thanks to South Whidbey’s doubles teams, Falcons boys tennis won its first match of the season against Anacortes on Friday.
A come-from-behind win by freshman Noah Frank gave the Falcons a 4-3 edge against the visiting Seagulls.
Frank, South Whidbey’s third singles player, lost the first set 1-6 to Caleb Wigen, then saved a match point in the second set tiebreaker to win 7-6 (8-6). He closed the third set 6-3 for his second win of the season.
“Twice he has shown steady composure and gutsy play in a tough matchup,” said South Whidbey head tennis coach Karyle Kramer.
In doubles, South Whidbey’s top team of juniors Hayden Nichols and Kyle Simchuk defeated Seagulls duo Brant Johnson and Tristan Massey, 6-3, 6-4.
Cameron Baldwin and Charley Stelling beat Anacortes doubles team Riley Ochs and Ale Phillips in three sets. Baldwin, a Falcons junior, and Stelling, a freshman, won 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
The third doubles match was also decided in three sets. South Whidbey junior Chase Collins and freshman Trent Fallon beat Garret Manion and Matt Irving, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
Anacortes’ top singles player Jared Wigen defeated junior Guy Sparkman, also a co-captain, 6-4, 6-3.
“Guy hasn’t found his rhythm yet,” Kramer said. “Both losses so far have been to guys he can beat. He’ll need to get more aggressive overall to beat the best players on other teams.”
Number two singles Jack Hood lost 6-2, 6-1 to Michael Kim. South Whidbey’s fourth singles player, Jonathon Peterson, lost 6-4, 6-0 to Campbell Torres.
South Whidbey struggled against Bellingham, a Northwest Conference perennial favorite, Monday afternoon. The varsity matches finished in less than 90 minutes of play with Bellingham winning 7-0.
The Red Raiders returned its top doubles team that finished fifth in the state 2A tennis tournament last year. Juniors Auden Schilder and Shane Miller made quick work of first-time doubles pair Hood and Simchuk in a 6-1, 6-2 win.
“It seems like we got the strategy down a little bit too late in the game,” Simchuk said. “They were really good at volleying.
“I was playing a little sloppy today. Kramer was telling us not to hit it to Clinton and to keep it on the court.”
Simchuk was previously paired with Nichols, and Hood played second singles, so it was an adjustment for both players.
“He has new strengths and weaknesses that Hayden didn’t have,” Simchuk said. “I missed Hayden today at the net, but Jack was good on his serves and returns.”
Kramer also changed her second doubles team, combining Stelling and Peterson, both freshmen. Bellingham’s more experienced Chad Cheldelin, a sophomore, and Dustin Watson, a senior, won 6-4, 6-4.
The only doubles team that remained intact, Collins and Fallon, lost to Sam Ferguson and Jacob McIntosh, 6-1, 6-2.
Sparkman lost to senior Reed Welch, 6-0, 6-2.
“I was happy with the results since the last two matches haven’t gone the way I hoped,” Sparkman said.
After the first set, he met with both his new Coach Kramer and his previous coach, Tom Kramer. During the break, the coaches urged him to take risks and become the aggressor by stepping into his shots and moving the ball from side to side, instead of getting into baseline rallies with Welch.
The result was winning two games, which Sparkman said was vast improvement from his previous two matches.
“Mr. Kramer said to take this chance to use this as practice.”
Baldwin, playing singles for the first time this season, lost to Bellingham junior EJ Troutman, 6-0, 6-0.
Nichols, also a first-time singles player, lost to Bellingham junior Brad Dale, 6-1, 6-3.
South Whidbey’s only undefeated player, Frank, lost to Riley Fulton, 6-3, 6-4.
The Falcons travel to Bellingham to play Sehome on Friday, a late match added last week to the schedule.