By JAMES EIK
After a long, hard-fought rebuilding season, the Cheney boys’ tennis team moved up in the GNL standings with a final record of 7-7.
In its final week of regular season play, the team lost to Pullman 7-0, facing tough competition throughout the day. Head coach Jesse Erickson said the doubles team of Shogo Starr and Adam Passey was close to winning two of their three sets, the third of which came down to the wire at 6-4, ended in a loss. Starr and Passey rebounded from a 6-1 first set loss to win the second 6-3.
While Pullman proved to be a tough day, the Blackhawks rebounded in a big way against Deer Park two days later, winning 4-3 in their final match of the year.
Wins from singles players Ryan Axtell and Mason Van Stone as well as doubles teams Nicholas Brewster and Nathaniel Brewster, and Starr and Tristan Bennett pulled out a strong victory that was very close.
“Mason had the best overhand serve I’ve seen all season,” Erickson said. “He was hitting a lot of aces, and it was just very good to see.” Van Stone would win his sets 6-2 and 6-3.
“A lot of the guys played hard, but we just had an off day,” Erickson said. “We were down 3-0 from the get-go.”
The close win isn’t anything new for the team, and marked their third 4-3 win on the season, in addition to several 5-2 wins. They only lost a one-point match to Medical Lake.
Playing under constant pressure proved to be a great training ground for the young team, which heads into next year with plenty of promising talent.
“It’s been a miraculous season in that regard,” Erickson said. “We’ve been really fortunate. The pressure was on the freshmen to win the matches for us and they’ve been able to handle the pressure very well.”
For Erickson, seeing the team grow over the course of the year and handle the type of pressure up to the last game was a highlight.
“That’s just awesome, I couldn’t be happier,” he said.
The way the team rebounded after losing several veteran players last year made this season a fun one for Erickson and the team.
“I’m really proud of the way our season started,” he said. “I was hopeful, but we definitely surprised a lot of other teams. To come back and have a 7-7 season, it really shocked a lot of people.”
The Blackhawks head south to play in the districts tournament at Pullman Friday, May 10.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.