The Highland High School boys tennis team aced Hillsboro in a recent dual match. The Bulldogs also went an 2-2 and finished 11th in their bracket at the Triad Invitational.
"At the Triad Invitational, I thought we played pretty well overall, with a few lapses at times. But I'd expect that from the first matches," Highland coach Matt Pellock said. "We were able to win some close matches, which is an early confident booster. I thought some of the strongest performances from the weekend came from Nathaniel English."
English won three matches at No. 1 doubles, and looked good coming to net.
"You can count on him to make first serves, which really helps his partner have an early advantage at the net," Pellock said..
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Chatham Glenwood 5, HHS 0
Chatham is a strong team, and the Titans were the eventual winners of Highland's bracket.
"Our top guys competed well with their top players," Pellock said.
Andrew Roach and Dylan Bargetzi had some strong returning and good serving at No. 1 doubles. English and Tyler Baublitz rallied well in singles, and Pellock said he saw a strong effort from them.
HHS 4, Belleville East JV 1
Pellock said Belleville East has a strong program, and their junior varsity typically has the experience of most varsity teams.
"I thought we showed our experience well, taking early leads in our matches, and then finishing with consistent hitting, while East made some errors towards the end of a couple tiebreakers," he said.
English and Roach won in straight sets at No. 1 doubles, while Dacoda Riechmann and Zane Robertson won in straight sets at 3 doubles. Bargetzi won in straight sets at the top singles spot, and Baublitz won in a super tiebreaker at No. 2 singles.
Triad JV 3, HHS 2
Pellock said Triad has an impressive JV group with a lot of depth, and that depth showed as the Knights edged the Bulldogs.
Highland received some quality playing from English and Baublitz at the top doubles spot. The duo cruised in straight sets.
"We saw a good combination of tough defense when Triad came to net, and we were pretty efficient when we came to net to finish off strong, well-placed volleys and overheads," Pellock said.
Pellock said he saw a really nice turnaround at No. 2 doubles, where Bargetzi and Connor Barton came back to win a super tiebreaker.
"After struggling early on returning and holding serve, they were able to settle in, which cut down on a lot of the first-set errors they had," Pellock said.
Roach was able to control his match early on and stayed ahead in the first set.
"I think some frustration in not being able to execute against shots he normally can handle flipped the match around, and after getting down in the deciding tiebreaker, he looked like he found some rhythm to attempt a comeback but didn't quite get all the way back," Pellock said.
HHS 3, Waterloo 2
Highland was able to put together three dominant results against waterloo to get the team victory win.
English and Baublitz posted a domineering 8-1 win at the top doubles spot, while Bargetzi won 8-0 at No. 1 singles, and Barton won 8-2 at the second singles position.
HHS 9, Hillsboro 0
All six of Highland's singles players — English, Roach, Baublitz, Riechmann, Barton and Robertston — breezed through their matches in straight sets.
The Bulldogs' doubles pairings of English and Baublitz (6-0, 6-0) and Roach and Barton (6-3, 6-4) won in straight sets, while Riechmann and Sutherland Allen had to go the full distance before outlasting their opponents at No. 3 doubles by scores of 6-0, 4-6, 10-6.
"This was a good situation for us — that we could see what we are doing well and what needs work, while controlling play in every match," Pellock said. "It was also fun to see guys that are taking over varsity roles for the first time get wins. For Dacoda (Riechamann), Connor (Barton), Zane (Robertson), and Sutherland (Allen) playing in the varsity lineup for a varsity dual match was uncharted territory for them, and they played well."
With Bargetzi recovering from some knee pain, Highland was working with some different doubles pairings. Pellock said he was glad to see English and Baublitz play very confident doubles and get a dominant result, while Roach and Barton executed well in their doubles play.
"Some big serving and groundstrokes from Roach set up Barton frequently to put shots away at net, and he executed those throughout the match," Pellock said.
Pellock said Allen and Riechmann play more of a defensive doubles game and were able to keep shots deep that avoided any easy net opportunities for Hillsboro.
"After some consistency struggles in the second set, it was good to see them get back to controlled hitting to win the tiebreaker," HHS' coach said. "I always enjoy seeing the first match for players and how they handle themselves, and our JV guys were focused and confident in their first match."