Chucks' back-to-back bid blocked by Beavers
DUBOIS — Wednesday, the Chucks' top doubles duo of Michael Blose and Tim Pearce set out to earn a second-straight District IX doubles championship knowing all the other pairs were gunning for them, and after Pearce and Blose advanced to the finals, they were defeated in a close match against DuBois' top pair of Patrick Johnson and Matt Fultz.
Johnson and Fultz downed Blose and Pearce in three close sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, to be crowned champions.
"When we were playing well, we played really well," Punxsy head coach Todd Heigley said after the tournament. "But when we were playing poorly, we played very poorly. That was the difference between winning and losing some of those games. We just didn't get it done. That's what it comes down to. We played more defensively and tentatively than we needed to."
Heigley said the Chucks seemed to lose the momentum they had going into the finals from the semis, dropping to 0-3 to begin the first set.
DuBois pushed its lead to 5-2 in the set before Punxsy battled back to 5-4, but DuBois closed it out from there.
Punxsy actually fell behind in the second set, as well, 5-2.
The Chucks had their backs against the wall with DuBois needing just one more game to claim the title, but Punxsy won five straight to earn a 7-5 second-set victory and force a third and final set.
"That seemed to spring us into the third set, and we were up 4-3 with a game point to push it to 5-3," Heigley said. "But we lost that game and ended up losing the next two to drop it 6-4."
Heigley called Wednesday's tournament "a sad ending to a pretty good year."
"It's kind of a tough way to go out," he added. "I feel bad for Tim not defending. Michael has another year to try for the titles, but we just didn't play the brand of tennis we did last year. Once we got rolling last year, there was nobody stopping us. This year, we ran into a team that played well and did what they needed to to beat us."
Punxsy's No. 1 team started the day on a high note, jumping out to a 4-0 lead over their opening-round foes — Kunal Patel and Kerry Maines, of Clearfield.
Maines held serve to bring the contest to 4-1, and after the two teams exchanged two-game streaks, the score was 6-3.
Each server held in the next six services, setting the score at 9-6, and Pearce battled back from a pair of double faults to earn a deciding-game victory with an overhead smash by Blose serving as an exclamation point.
In the second round, the Chucks faced DuBois' No. 2 doubles squad, consisting of Corrie Olson and Colton Ames and earned a 6-3, 6-1 victory in the best-of-three-sets semi-finals.
The Chucks started well again, jumping out to a 2-0 lead by breaking Ames' serve and holding on Blose's turn.
Olson held to pull DuBois back within one, but Pearce held his own, as well, and Blose punctuated another break of Ames' serve with another overhead winner to put Punxsy up 4-1.
DuBois broke Blose to sneak back to 4-2, and the two teams traded breaks for the next three games, with Punxsy coming out on top 6-3.
Blose won his first service game of the second set on four straight points, and Punxsy broke Ames for a third time on four straight points to take a 2-0 edge in the second set.
The next three servers held again, giving Punxsy a 4-1 edge, and the Chucks did it again — breaking Ames to pull within one game of a finals berth.
DuBois managed just one point against Pearce's serve, and the Chucks' duo was bound for its second straight championship game.
Unfortunately for Punxsy, in a back-and-forth, closely-contested final, it was DuBois' top pair that came out on top.
Punxsy also had its No. 2 doubles duo of Nick Roberts and Eddie Serafin entered in the tournament, and Roberts and Serafin fell to the eventual champs in the quarterfinals, 10-4.
Despite the lopsided final, Punxsy hung with the Beavers' top pair — minus the singles champion Trey Gilmore, who was ineligible due to his singles victory — for the first few games.
Punxsy trailed 2-0 early but battled back, and after Roberts held serve and the Chucks earned a break, the score was tied at two.
DuBois won the next game to lead 3-2 at the coaches' break, but another quick break evened the score at three apiece.
DuBois broke Roberts to go ahead 4-3, and the Beavers would hold on to the lead from there on.
Punxsy's final point came on a Serafin service game, bringing Punxsy back within one at 4-5, but DuBois won the final five games to advance to the second round.
"Nick and Eddie played the eventual champion in the first round, so I guess you can say DuBois had to go through Punxsy to win it this year," Heigley said. "And I was proud of the way Nick and Eddie played. They held tough for the first few games.
"Those guys battled, and I thought Tuesday's practice showed Ed and Nick might give DuBois fits. And they did for a little while; it just didn't stick."
With no Chucks advancing in singles or doubles and the team title going to DuBois, as well, Wednesday brought the Chucks' season to a close.
Five of the eight team members, seniors Pearce, Roberts, Serafin, Justin Ray and Ryan States, will graduate, leaving just underclassmen and other potential recruits to step into a number of open roles for the Chucks next season.
"In all, it was a good season," Heigley said. "We finished 6-4, and hey, we'll lose a lot, but hopefully, there are some others who want to come out and play to fill those gaps. There are at least two open singles spots and some open doubles spots from graduating seniors.
"But it was a good season with a good group of kids. They learned a lot, and that was evidenced after today's match. Mike and Tim were both asking what they could have done better. Overall, like I said, it was just kind of a sad ending to a pretty good year."