It nearly happened, but the Bulldogs’ Wyatt Smits and Andrew Snoap prevailed by a 7-5 score in the third set to pull out a win and give Grandville a 5-3 victory during a windy late afternoon. The loss drops the Bucs’ record in the O-K Red to 1-4.
“Our fourth doubles team was down in that fourth set 4-1 and they fought back and made it 5-4,” Grand Haven coach Jeremy Case said. “They had a chance to break point, but weren’t able to pull through. It’s amazing how momentum can change in a blink of an eye.”
To see photos from the match, click here.
“Looking at our flights as a whole, we were in the right spot a lot of times, we just didn’t execute the shots,” Case added. “I knew we needed to play our best tennis if we were to have any chance at knocking off Grandville’s singles players.”
Grand Haven received a glimmer of hope for a tie once the No. 1 doubles team of Cam Rickard and Isaac Bowen rode the comeback trail in their match against the Bulldogs’ Grant Klairer and Alex Mize. The Bucs’ duo fell 5-7 in the first set, but controlled the rest of the match, winning 6-1, 6-2.
“It’s the kind of thing where they need to keep the mindset of playing to win, rather than playing not to lose,” Case said.
“That first set, we weren’t playing our best and they were making a lot of big shots,” added Bowen, a senior. “We were able to come back because we were just more consistent.”
“Their serving wasn’t too bad,” Rickard added. “We just needed to keep our heads up and keep our feet moving.”
Combined with Bowen’s quick reflexes at the net and Rickard’s fleet feet and ability to track down a number of shots around the back line, the pair were able to put the pressure on the ‘Dawgs with consistent groundstrokes and quick forehand smashes at the net. Back-to-back stellar returns for winners by Bowen put the team up 3-0 in the third set and his nicely-placed forehand return on match point clinched the victory and improved their season record to 7-7.
The No. 2 team of Ryan Peterson and Adam Carlisle notched their fourth O-K Red victory to just one defeat with their straight-set win.
“Our net game was very strong today and we didn’t double fault on our serves,” said Peterson. “Plus, our returns to serve were working very well.”
Although Peterson felt he and Carlisle were “meshing well together,” for the rest of his teammates, its been crash course adjusting to varsity action, since the team replaced nine of 12 starters from a year ago.
“It’s been a big adjustment because Coach doesn’t have as many on the team who have experienced competition at this level,” Peterson said. “But we’re getting better everyday.”
At No. 3 doubles, the team of Phil Chalifoux and Craig Peplinski needed three sets to beat Grandville’s James Whipple and Mike Bekken, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
There were no such three-set thrillers in singles action, however, as the ‘Dawgs foursome each won in straight sets.
“Their singles are by far the best in the O-K Red,” Case said. “All four are undefeated (in the league).”
Bucs’ senior Connor Kelley was blasted by Grandville’s Matt Hamilton, 6-0, 6-0; Korey Searle fell 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2; DJ Thielbar fell to Grandville freshman Zach Rabitory 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3; and Bucs’ freshman Varun Biddanda suffered a 6-0, 6-1 setback at No. 4.