Gilmore knocks off Chucks' top pair for title

DUBOIS — After falling to DuBois in the District IX team finals Wednesday afternoon, Punxsy had a shot to earn its revenge in the singles title against a difficult foe in DuBois' No. 1 singles player, Trey Gilmore. But the Chucks' top singles players, Michael Blose and Tim Pearce, each fell to Gilmore — the eventual champion — Thursday in DuBois.

Despite a loss on the score sheet, Punxsy head coach Todd Heigley said Blose battled Gilmore in what was most likely his strongest match of the season. Gilmore just proved to be too much and went on to win 6-4, 6-2.

"That was probably one of the best matches I've seen Michael play all year and one of the best finals I've seen in a couple years," Heigley said. "At 6-4, 6-2, it was a lot closer than that final score indicates. I don't know how many times they went to deuce, but it was a lot. He was up 4-2 and missed an overhead to put the game away. That would have put him up 5-2, but Trey came back and won that game and then rattled off four in a row."

Heigley said it was the problem that plagued the Chucks Wednesday that ended up being Blose's downfall, as well: Unforced errors at untimely points in the match.

"Michael had a couple times that he just couldn't put him away," Heigley said. "Again, it was unforced errors at the wrong time. But I'm proud of both Michael and Tim. They both represented us very well, and they played very hard."

Pearce's day started with a 10-8 win over Clearfield's Ian Bookhammer — a match that Heigley said may have worn Pearce down a bit after leading early and having to hold off a late run by Bookhammer.

Pearce faced Gilmore in the semi-finals and fell 6-0, 6-0 in another match Heigley said wasn't as bad as the final score indicated.

"Timmy lost 0-6, 0-6, but he tried just about everything in his repertoire to try to beat him," he said. "Every time he got a first serve in, he just couldn't get anything going. It wasn't as bad as a washout."

Blose's day started on a bit of a rough note, with Bradford's No. 2 Cody Bly taking an early 5-4 lead. Blose took advantage of the scheduled coaches' break, though, to find some motivation and instruction from Heigley and battled back to win the next six points and earn a 10-5 victory to advance to the best-of-three-sets semis.

In the semis, Blose turned up the heat and cruised past Cory Maines, 6-3, 6-1, to earn a spot in the finals against Gilmore.

Blose jumped out to an early lead, but it just wasn't enough, and Gilmore was crowned the champion.

Heigley said he hopes Blose's trip to the finals will give him something to aim for next season, as he'll be returning.

"There was a lot of good tennis between those guys, and I was pleased," he said. "A couple shots here or there probably could have really changed the entire outlook in Michael's favor. But it just didn't happen. Now, he's been there as far as that goes, and next year, he'll have something to shoot for."

Heigley also added that losing to Gilmore — a worthy foe — was nothing to hang a head over.

"Trey will do a very nice job representing our district, too," Heigley said. "He's got a little bit of power and some really nice finesse. He plays well at the net; there's not too many weaknesses in his game. But Michael stuck to the game plan and was able to exploit him a bit. But then the errors crept in. When Timmy played him, he may have been a little out of gas after Bookhammer clawed his way back into their match."

Overall, Heigley said it was a good day and a good tournament, and now his team will turn to preparations for its final shot at a D-IX crown — where Blose and Pearce are reigning champs — at the doubles tournament Monday.

"The AA matches were competitive, and it was just a good tournament. We had to sit through two hour-long delays for rain, but it was worth it to go over and watch some good tennis. Now, we have a quick turnover to get ready for doubles and go from there."

The doubles championships will begin at 9 a.m. in DuBois Monday.