The Highland High School boys tennis team started the season 2-0 after nearly acing the Hillsboro Hilltoppers, 8-1, and then squeaking by a testy Greenville Comets team.
Against Hillsboro, Highland swept all six singles matches and took two of three in doubles from the Hilltoppers. All eight of the Bulldog victories came in straight sets.
Scoring wins in singles were: Zach Plocher, 6-1, 6-2 over Ben Leible; Ryan Long, 6-2, 6-4 over Seth Watson; Brett Barker, 6-0, 6-1 over Austin Grabow; Jared Bargetzi, 6-1, 6-0 over Jake Mutchler; Jacob Plocher, 6-1, 6-1 over Austin Leisure; and Nathaniel English, 6-2, 6-1 over Koby Lemon.
Winning in doubles competition were the No. 1 tandem of Long and Barker, 6-2, 6-4 over Leible and Watson; and the No. 2 team of Zach Plocher and Bargetzi, 6-0, 6-0 over Mutcher/Leisure.
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The only loss for Highland in the match came at No. 3 doubles, where Jacob Plocher and English went the distance before coming up short to Grabow and Lemon by scores of 6-4, 3-6 and 7-10.
“The experience we have in our varsity group showed in our first match,” said Highland coach Matt Pellock. “We were able to get all six singles wins and victories at 1 and 2 doubles. There can be some anxiety in the first match, and this is also a sectional team for us, but we stayed in points well and had a lot of early success which helped gain confidence throughout the match.”
In the narrow team win over Greenville, the Comets took four of the six singles matches, so the Bulldogs had to sweep all three doubles matches in order to pull out the overall team victory.
The Highland duo did just that to earn the hard-fought 5-4 come-from-behind team triumph.
“In a match where, not only were we able to get some key individual wins that will help come sectional time, but we complemented that effort with a great comeback team win,” Pellock said. “Greenville has a full squad of great movers and consistent hitters, which was a tough test and would result in wins at four out of the six singles matches. It is tough to go into the start of doubles knowing that you need to win all three matches, but everybody did their job.”
Long and Barker had the easiest time at No. 1 doubles, downing Silas Groves and Michael Intud in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
At the second spot, brothers Zach Plocher and Jacob Plocher rebounded from a rough 1-6 first-set loss to battle back and overtake Will Schaufulborger and Jeremiah Brannon 7-6 and 10-1 over the final two sets.
And at No. 3 doubles, Bargetzi and English battled toe to toe with Mitch Cole and Lelanhan before prevailing in three sets by scores of 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.
“No. 1 doubles looked very strong and led the entire match winning, 6-4, 6-4,” Pellock said. “Our three doubles had a well played match, especially at the end where they closed out a 10-7 tiebreaker to win. And after a tough start, the Plocher brothers won a tight second and a dominant 10-1 tiebreaker to clinch their win and the team win.”
The brothers, Zach and Jacob Plocher, won the two singles matches for the Bulldogs and they both did son in straight sets.
At No. 1 singles, Zach overwhelmed Cole, 6-0 and 6-2 while Jacob bested Brannon, 6-4 and 6-2 at 5 singles.
“Zach was sharp at 1 singles, and even though there were some long points, he was in control of his match with a 6-0 6-2 win,” Pellock said. “Jacob Plocher had a big battle at 5 singles, against a quick opponent who came to the net a lot. Jacob made smart shots and some great passes and lobs and won his match in straight sets.”
At No. 3 singles, Barker battled long and hard before in a see-saw match that went the distance and then some before he ultimately fell short against Intud, 7-6, 4-6 and 8-10.
“Brett ended up having a two hour singles match at No. 3 that finished with a tough 8-10 defeat in the deciding tiebreaker,” Pellock said. “Brett has shown a much improved spirit in his game and this was great early season experience for him. We certainly want to win that one but he got better just playing that type of match.”