Van Stone, Axtell pick up first league win at doubles
Mason Van Stone prepares to hit the ball back across the court. Van Stone and his doubles partner Ryan Axtell picked up their first win at doubles in the May 8 match against Pullman.
While the Cheney High School boys' tennis team fell to the Pullman Greyhounds 6-1 in their last home dual of the season, doubles partners Mason Van Stone and Ryan Axtell gained some success on their path to districts.
Van Stone and Axtell scored their first Great Northern League (GNL) win at No. 1 doubles, after they beat Pullman's Miles Saul and Jake Weirich, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 in a match that lasted over two hours.
Van Stone and Axtell struggled in the beginning of the first set before battling back to win it. They led early in the second, up 3-0 before Saul and Weirich began to catch up. After the set was tied 4-4 following a double fault from Van Stone, the Cheney duo clinched the match point.
"Mason (Van Stone) and Ryan (Axtell) played by far the best they have played all season," boys' head tennis coach Jesse Erickson said. "They've been working on their serves and other things to make their game better."
In addition to getting their first league win, Van Stone and Axtell avenged a loss they suffered at the hands of Saul and Weirich earlier in the season.
Although Cheney lost their second-consecutive match against Pullman, the scores were closer than the first time the Hawks faced the Hounds.
"The effort my guys put out there was just awesome," Erickson said. "They showed how much they've improved over the season."
Cheney will wrap up their regular season against Deer Park, May 15. The Stags have struggled in both league and non-league competition throughout the season. They come into the match after a 5-2 loss against the Freeman Scotties.
"We're not overlooking Deer Park by any means," Erickson said. "We're just going to keep working and improving."
Al Stover can be reached at email@example.com.