The Highland High School boys tennis team dropped two of three Mississippi Valley Conference matches after defeating Jerseyville, 7-2, before falling to Mascoutah, 0-9, and Waterloo, 3-6.
Highland coach Matt Pellock said the loss to Waterloo came with some long battles and a combination of close wins and close losses.
“The guys had a tough test playing a good Waterloo team and also battling strong winds that were very challenging to hit through,” Pellock said.
Zach Plocher won two hard-fought matches at No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles, punctuated by outlasting his opponent at No. 1 singles for a 13-11 tiebreaker triumph.
“He battled physically and mentally to get a 13-11 tiebreaker win at 1 singles. His opponent was very steady and it required patience and execution to win the match,” Pellock said.
Brett Barker was HHS’ other victor and won his match in straight sets after falling behind 0-3 to start the first set.
“He was directing the ball well in the wind and kept his opponent off-balance that allowed for some errors and opportunities for Brett to end points at net,” Pellock said.
Highland had other close singles matches where Jared Bargetzi and Andrew Roach both lost some tight sets.
Ryan Long and Jacob Plocher had some tougher matchups for them, but Pellock said they are certainly capable of getting those wins again if they face up again in the conference tournament.
Mascoutah was a tough matchup for the HHS Bulldogs, especially with the talent they have at the top of their lineup. Pellock said the Indians’ No. 1 and 2 players — Zack Harris and Noah Mosteller — are very skilled, with their Harris, their No. 1 player, being one of the best players in southern Illinois.
“He is a freshman and has been an upcoming talent for many years leading up to his high school career,” Pellock said. “Zach (Plocher) started out with some early game points, but was tough to pull out that last point, and was not able to win a game in the first set. He really battled to start the second set and was able to get a lead at 3-2. But (Harris) played tough and got the win at 6-0, 6-3.”
Long had an equally tough assignement against Mosteller, Mascoutah’s No. 2 player, who is a very experienced and skilled singles player.
“Ryan hit well but it was tough to put pressure on (Mosteller) consistently to get many games,” Pellock said. “We had some close battles at 4 and 5 singles. Jared had no answer in the first set in his match, losing 0-6, but he played a much cleaner, more consistent second and forced Mascoutah to a second-set tiebreaker but lost 6-7.”
Jacob Plocher split the first two sets at number 5 singels, and lost a closet third-set tiebreaker 8-10.
Pellock said Jacob Plocher and Bargetzi may both have the opportunity to have that matchup again in the conference tournament, and they can certainly flip the result.
Pellock also said Barker and Long played very well at number 1 doubles to start their match, getting out to a 4-1 lead.
“We gave them some second-chance opportunities and lost some of the execution we had to start the match, and fell short 5-7, 2-6,” Pellock said.
Pellock said his team’s first MVC match of the season, against Jerseyville, went very well.
“We had many guys come through with some good wins,” Pellock said.
Zach Plocher was done in a hurry in his match, dropping just one game to win 6-0, 6-1.
Long had a nice serving day, and it put some big pressure on his opponent as Ryan pulled out a third-set tiebreaker for the win.
Barker’s match went the distance as well, and Pellock said it was very nice to see him get his win after some close singles losses earlier against Greenville and in the Edwardsville Tournament.
Bargetzi and Jacob Plocher also had nice conference debuts, only dropping a few games total between them.
“The guys played very solid in the doubles as well,” Pellock said. “They had straight-set wins at both 1 and 2 doubles. Nathaniel English and Andrew Roach have been representing the number six spot and making up part of our 3 doubles team.
“They are improving every time they take the court and even matches that they may not come away with a win, they have played their opponent tough. Nathaniel shows good confidence at the net and that is transferring to some doubles success for him. Andrew has been our go to for our six singles spot, as he has good speed which allows him to extend rallies and cause errors. I’ve been very pleased with these two this season.
“Not only was it a good outing for our varsity group, but the JV guys have been successful and that continued against Jerseyville. Austin Zurliene has been playing well for us and he had multiple wins in this match. He has good prescence at the net and court sense that really helps his game.”
At the Edwardsville JV Tournament, Pellock said his JV group, along with some of our varsity players, played two talented JV teams in this tournament.
“We faced Edwardsville in the first round and then Chaminade in the second,” he said. “Our JV group has been improving a lot so far, and they played hard and got some good experience too. Some notable matches for us in this one was the play of Tyler Baublitz, who played an experienced opponent but Tyler was able to rally with him. Tyler has made nice strides in his consistency and he enjoys competing.”
Also, English and Cameron Shively went shot for shot with the Eedwardsville two doubles team.
“These two can strike the ball well, and this was great experience that will help them increase their doubles knowledge,” Pellock said.
Bargetz and Jacob Plocher had the closest match at No. 1 doubles. They lost 4-6, 2-6, but Pellock said the Highalnd duo came out strong really pressuring a good doubles team with tough volleys and good passing shots.
The Bulldogs’ next match was against Chaminade, where Highland got two wins at its top sinlges and doubles spots.
“Jacob (Plocher) had one of his better singles performances of the year at number one singles,” Pellock said. “He won a third-set tiebreaker and made some excellent shots both in the back court and did well coming in to net.”
Bargetzi and Barker played No.1 doubles and they finished off two close sets with 6-4, 7-6 win.
Dacoda Riechmann and Blake McCaslin played 3 doubles for Highland in this round and were able to get a few games in each set.
“Blake was able to make some winning shots at net, and Dacoda did a nice job of extending points to give Blake those opportunities,” Pellock said.