Lineup shakeup costs Falcon tennis sweep against Anacortes

Taylor Simmons chases down a low shot for a quick-flick forehand against Anacortes on Thursday. The Falcon senior lost 6-2, 6-2 to the Seahawks’ top player, Jared Wigen.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Taylor Simmons chases down a low shot for a quick-flick forehand against Anacortes on Thursday. The Falcon senior lost 6-2, 6-2 to the Seahawks’ top player, Jared Wigen.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — Karyle Kramer’s goal to diversify the playing styles and skills of the Falcon boys tennis players had its first casualty Thursday.

Anacortes defeated South Whidbey 4-3, only two days after losing 4-3 to the Falcons on the Seahawks’ home court.

“Two matches with only a day in between,” Kramer said in an email. “We got a chance to see what we need to work on, both in form and strategy.”

This Falcon team, though it lost zero players from last year to graduation, has plenty of new faces. Five seniors are first-time Falcon tennis players, and Kramer chose to play only one in a team-score match, Mitchell Hughes partnered with senior Cameron Baldwin at second doubles.

South Whidbey’s doubles teams held pat and won out all three matches. Hughes and Baldwin had to rally after losing the second set 4-6, but finished their Anacortes opponents Jared Douglas and Sam Everton 6-4 in the third.

Kramer changed her lineup from the match Tuesday. Senior co-captain and the team’s top singles player Guy Sparkman was moved to first doubles with sophomore Charley Stelling. That bumped up senior co-captain Taylor Simmons to first singles, which he lost 6-2, 6-2 to Jared Wigen, who defeated Sparkman 6-4, 6-4.

“I wasn’t able to break,” Sparkman said of the Tuesday match. “I was always one game behind.”

Moving from top doubles to second singles was senior Sam Turpin. The hard-hitting Falcon had to shake some rust off after not playing on the team last year, despite playing for the USTA South Whidbey team this summer. He lost to Matt Irving, a “pusher,” who returns hits and plays out points for an error, rather than scoring winning shots.

“Awful,” Turpin said of his performance. “I can’t stand players like that.”

Turpin struggled as rallies extended, losing the luster of his usually solid forehand and putting the ball into the net.

“My overheads and net game were rusty,” Turpin said. “It (his shot) just gets lower and lower.”

Anacortes swept the singles matches Thursday against South Whidbey. Kaleb Wigen beat Falcon sophomore Jonathon Peterson 6-2, 6-3 in the third singles match. It was a reversal from Peterson’s 6-3, 6-3 sweep of Wigen just two days earlier.

“To play him again two days later would be tough for anyone,” Kramer said. “Instead of playing to win, he played not to lose.”

After heroics in the first meeting from sophomore Jack Hood, he couldn’t repeat the magic in a three-set loss to Eli Gallo. In the first meeting, Hood partnered with Hughes at second doubles for a three-set victory that had six match points, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5. Hood and Hughes’ win handed the Falcons their team victory over the Seahawks on Tuesday. The partners rallied from a 5-4 deficit in the third set, and battled for several deuce and match points to eventually win 7-5.

“Mitchell stayed calm and Jack and he both scrambled and returned shots they needed to stay in the match,” Kramer said.

Playing singles Thursday, Gallo beat Hood 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

“Gallo became more consistent as the match went on,” Kramer said. “Jack put up a good fight but just didn’t move Gallo around as much as he did in the first set.”

Senior tandem Chase Collins and Kyle Simchuk won the third doubles match against Levi Keltner and Garrett Higgins, 6-1, 6-0. For Simchuk, a second-year varsity tennis player, it was his first match because he was ineligible on Tuesday because he lacked the mandatory 10 practices. He replaced fellow senior Connor McCauley, a first-year tennis player, as Collins’ teammate at third doubles. McCauley and Collins defeated Jared Douglas and Keltner 6-4, 6-1, for McCauley’s first Falcon tennis victory.

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