Falcons celebrate Senior Day with 3-2 victory over Bush School

Falcon senior Michael Hastings returns a shot during South Whidbey’s Senior Day tennis match against Bush.

For their first time paired together in a varsity match, senior Falcon boys tennis players Michael Hastings and Loel Nichols made things look pretty smooth.

Their cohesion on the court led to a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Bush’s Daniel Wang and Michael Royzen on Thursday afternoon at South Whidbey High School.

When a ball needed to be chased, Nichols was there to run after it.

When a ball needed to be smashed for a point, Hastings was there with his racket at the ready.

“We took the net and kept smashing on them and they couldn’t do anything about it,” Nichols said.

The Falcons defeated the Blazers, 3-2, on Senior Day. Earning victories were Nichols and Hastings and a doubles pair of senior Bjorn Elliott and freshman Kody Newman, who defeated Bush’s Brennan Commons and Ilya Dreizin, 6-0, 6-2.

Larsen Christiansen represented South Whidbey as the lone singles player, but lost to Michael Sherman, 6-3, 6-1.

Bush conceded the second singles match due to a lack of players.

Falcon Josh Stiles was also honored on Senior Day.

Hastings and Nichols got off to a quick start in the first set, but unforced errors and trying to keep balls in play in  the second set curbed their momentum. Hastings and Nichols trailed 1-2 when they began pressing the net with aggressive play. Hastings finished the fourth game with a backhand point to tie the second set at 2-2.

After trading wins in the fifth and sixth games, Nichols and Hastings won the following two games with relative ease and were on the cusp of winning the match when Wang and Royzen made a surge to win the ninth game.

That was when Hastings helped the Falcon pair jump ahead 30-0 with some finesse. He managed to hit a shot that grazed the top of the net and landed out of reach for Royzen and Wang.

Another Hastings point put them up 40-0, and a fault by Royzen ended the match.

“I’m not surprised, just again because of their similar styles and they’ve known each other a long time,” said Falcon head coach Karyle Kramer. “They’re just both very easy-going players.”

The players had only positive reviews for one another after the match.

“Killer net person,” Nichols said of Hastings. “He got up to the net and smashed it every time and got every point.”

Hastings credited Nichols for his ability to track down the ball when it was in danger of scoring points on the perimeter of the court.

“It was fun. I’m going to miss it, especially playing every day at the high school,” Nichols said.

The most-contested match of the day was between Falcon doubles team senior Jacob Nelson and sophomore Hank Papritz against Bush’s Noah Medina and Ivan Repin.

Nelson and Papritz took the first set, 6-2, but due to tentative play and hard serves by Repin, the pair lost the second set to force a tiebreaker.

Nelson and Papritz led the tiebreaker 4-1, but squandered their lead to make it 5-5.

Repin and Medina’s final push in the eleventh and twelfth games of the set gave them the match win, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

“They kind of had us on our heels in the second and third sets,” Papritz said. “I had a hard time stepping into the ball at the net. The one guy just had a really good serve.”

The Falcons will gear up for the bi-district tournament on Oct. 23-24 at Amy Yee Tennis Center in Seattle.

South Whidbey is currently 7-5 overall and 5-5 in the Emerald City League.