Tennis squad battles back for win over Bison

PUNXSUTAWNEY โ€” After looking as if it was starting to come into its own Saturday and Monday with a pair of 9-0 sweeps over DuBois Central Catholic and Johnsonburg Saturday and Tuesday, respectively, the Punxsy boys' tennis team found itself in a bit of a hole after dropping the top three singles matches against Clearfield Wednesday in Punxsutawney.

But down 0-3, the Chucks never showed any signs of quitting, and they rallied to win the last six contested matches to earn a 6-3 victory.

"This match was good competition and maybe a bit of a reality check," Punxsy head coach Todd Heigley said. "But I think all in all, we could have won all three of those singles matches. The games just didn't seem to fit our style of play. We played well in spurts, but we need to put things together. They were defensive and kind of sat back waiting for us to make the errors, and we did."

At No. 1 singles, Clearfield's Ian Bookham- mer defeated Punxsy's Mike Blose 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in what ended up being a very close second set.

In an even closer match, Punxsy's Tim Pearce split the first two sets at No. 2 singles with Cory Maines, 2-6, 6-3, before falling 11-9 in the third set. Pearce had actually battled back to even the tie-breaker at 9-9, but Maines earned the last two points for the victory.

At No. 3 singles, Eddie Serafin dropped the first set 2-6 to Kerry Maines before battling back to take a 5-4 lead in the second set.

Unfortunately for the Chucks, though, Maines fought back to win the second set 7-5 and earn the third team point.

Heigley said a large part of the problem came down to the fact that the Chucks were not only making the unforced errors, but they were dwelling on them, as well.

"We can't let the little setbacks hurt us," he said. "It seems we think too much about the shot we just screwed up instead of moving on. A lot of it's just mental things we need to learn to forget about and play from that point on. If we can do that, we'll be OK. But if we get upset and mad about shots, just like in any other sport, it's going to hurt you."

Better news came for Punxsy in Nos. 4 and 5 singles, where Ryan States and Nick Roberts cruised to a pair of victories to keep the match in reach heading into doubles competition.

States' win came first at No. 4, where Kunal Patel managed just one game against him in a 6-1, 6-0 victory.

Roberts didn't waste much more time downing Vince Owens at No. 5 singles with a 6-2, 6-1 win.

Heigley said after the match that the impressive play States and Roberts have displayed as of late hasn't gone unnoticed.

"Ryan and Nick are turning things up, and they may make it interesting," he said. "There just might be a couple little changes heading into districts depending on how the kids respond and how they play. It just goes with whoever is hot."

Roberts and States kept things rolling in doubles action, where they teamed at No. 2 for a 9-8 victory over Cory Maines and Kunel, with Clearfield scoring just four points in the tie-breaker.

All three players who dropped singles matches bounced back in doubles action, as well, beginning at the top where Blose and Pearce downed Clearfield's top pair of Bookhammer and Kerry Maines.

Serafin teamed with senior Justin Ray to defeat Owens and Gabe Ford at No. 3 doubles, 8-3, and CJ Seitz and Joe Roberts completed the doubles sweep with an 8-2 victory over Connor Renaud and Anthony Grenus.

"I thought we played really well in doubles again," Heigley said. "We keep plugging away in that, and hopefully, we can get a couple doubles wins at districts next week (against DuBois) and get a singles win. If we can do that, it'll end up being a pretty nice thing."

Despite the shaky start, Heigley said Punxsy is two-thirds of the way to its goal for the week: Going 3-0.

"This win makes us 2-0, and we said we wanted to be 3-0 this week to gain momentum for team districts next week," he said. "We don't want to look ahead to DuBois Wednesday, but we do have to prepare ourselves, so I switched the lineup a bit tonight to see how Nick and Ryan were going to play together. All in all, it's a good win, and a good, solid doubles showing โ€” even though we mixed up the lineup โ€” is encouraging."

Punxsy completes a busy week of action today when it travels to Brockway to take on the Rovers with hopes of going 3-0 to wrap up the regular season.

Next week will be another busy one for some members of the Chucks' squad, as Blose and Pearce will travel to DuBois Monday for the District IX singles finals.

The team will make the trip Wednesday to take on DuBois in the finals of the D-IX team championships.