Falcon doubles tandem Jacob Nelson and Hank Papritz didn’t quite know what to expect coming into their match with Coupeville’s John McClarin and Joseph Wedekind on Thursday at South Whidbey High School.
What they got in return were accurate and powerful serves from McClarin and Wedekind, who quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first game.
After a brief talk with Falcon head coach Karyle Kramer, Nelson and Papritz settled down and pressed the net more, resulting in a flurry of points by the pair.
Keeping McClarin and Wedekind on their heels, Nelson and Papritz won six consecutive games to claim the first set, 6-3.
Nelson and Papritz cruised in the following set and won the match 6-1.
“We went to the net more and we played more aggressive and I think that pulled us ahead,” Nelson said. “I know we could have played better in the beginning, so once we hit our stride then we were good.”
The pair’s win helped the Falcons beat the Wolves 4-1 in their non-conference matchup, following up on a 5-0 win over Emerald City League opponent Bush School on Tuesday.
Nelson and Papritz’s experience as a team goes back to playing at the bi-district tournament in 2014.
“I had no concerns they would pull it together and play good tennis,” Kramer said. “I’ve seen them play very good doubles together. They just started a little bit slow.”
It was a different feeling for the varsity Falcon players, who had to wait until 4 p.m. to play. The junior varsity match that was scheduled for Tuesday was postponed, so varsity players had to wait until the JV matches were concluded before taking the courts.
But that didn’t stop the Falcons’ doubles teams from sweeping their opponents on the day.
Michael Hastings and Ari Rohan defeated Coupeville’s William Nelson and Joey Lippo, while Aengus Dubendorf and Larsen Christensen beat Jimmy Myers and Lilan Sekigawa.
Hastings and Rohan needed some dramatics in order to win their match.
After winning the opening set, 6-4, Hastings and Rohan dropped the following set, 6-3, to even the match at 1. The match went into a super tiebreaker in the third game, where a team can win by reaching 10 with a two-point lead. Hastings and Rohan won the third set 14-12, capping off the victory for the Falcons.
South Whidbey’s top singles player, freshman Kody Newman, beat Coupeville’s Sebastian Davis, 6-1, 6-4. Ryan Wenzek, the Falcons’ second singles player, took the first set over Connor McCormick, 6-1, but dropped the next two, 6-3, 6-1, for a loss.
Newman dropped the opening game to Davis, but responded by winning the next six to win the first set. Newman jumped ahead 2-1 in the second game and used the lead to implement new techniques in his game. That was when Davis caught up with Newman, eventually tying the set at 3-3. Davis won the following game to go ahead, 4-3.
Newman managed to refocus and recapture his stride by taking the following two games to claim the victory.
“I started off strong in the first set and then the set score got to me and I tried doing new stuff and from there I couldn’t get back to my normal game,” Newman said. “I just really stepped it up a notch and tried to get it over with. He’s a good player, he did a good job of coming back. He didn’t let the score get to him. Most people would have ended it right there. He came back and played hard.”
Newman is currently on a three-match winning streak, having only lost once this season.
“It’s good experience to win that first set and then all of a sudden find yourself down,” Kramer said. “We talk a lot about the tennis season and the mental game and the ebb and flow — its momentum, its changing tempo — and he gets that and I appreciate that about him, that he’s open to that. He’s thinking about the bigger picture as much as he can.”