The Edgemont boys tennis team had a challenging week with two league opponents and one powerhouse. While the team came away 2-1 to improve to 6-4 overall, third set 10-point supertiebreaks continue to be shaky, despite being a strength in past years.
The Panthers will look to improve on the tiebreak front in the next few weeks before sectionals.
Edgemont opened its week against Ardsley where, due to the absence of some players, coach Mark Romney had to mix up his lineup. This match was played during Edgemont’s spring break and Edgemont was missing six players from their top rotation.
Romney teamed up senior Jake Beyer with his younger brother Alex, a call-up from junior varsity, to play first doubles, a unique opportunity for the pair to play together.
The Beyer brothers won their match 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 and Edgemont won the match 4-3. The decided match tied up at 3-3 was freshman Will Mellis winning 6-3, 7-5 at second singles.
This was a crucial shorthanded win as the Panthers keep their hopes of a fifth straight league title alive.
“Overall, give credit to Ardsley for giving us a real tough fight,” Romney said. “I feel with our top lineup on the courts we would win 7-0, but today it came down to the fantastic effort by Will Mellis at second singles which gave us the win and kept our hope of winning the league very much alive.”
After securing the win at home, Edgemont’s next match was supposed to be against rival Bronxville, but it was cancelled due to inclement weather. Instead of playing Bronxville Friday, Edgemont traveled to Blind Brook Monday to battle against the Trojans. Edgemont won the match by a score of 5-2, with the only two losses coming from the top two singles players.
Some Edgemont players had to go into their matches uncharacteristically cold because Blind Brook only has four courts for competitions. This made the mental preparedness of the players essential to avoid coming out on the short end of the racket.
Romney was particularly proud of senior Conner Haas and sophomore Daniel Liu, who won 6-3, 6-1 at fourth doubles. He called it “a big win.”
“They limited their unforced errors and kept their focus for every point,” Romney said.”
First-year varsity player Haas has risen as a senior to try to fulfill the revolving fourth doubles role, improving his record to 2-0.
Edgemont’s superb doubles play was an important factor in this win. Romney recognizes the importance of his strong doubles teams, saying, “The key to winning this long 10-match league season is dominance in doubles. Today was a great example.”
This victory improved Edgemont’s league record to 3-0.
On Tuesday, the Panthers were challenged once again by one of the top teams in the section, Harrison. This match was hard fought but Edgemont came out with only two victories. Mellis won at second singles 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 and Scott Rappaport and Jacob Meyer won 6-3, 6-3 at third doubles.
Jake Beyer and Ben Gilman took their first loss of the season at first doubles by a 6-4, 6-4 score. Both players do not expect to lose another match in the regular season.
“Jake and I are confident that we can win every match from now until sectionals and that the team can go undefeated in the league as well,” senior captain Gilman said.
Although it was a tough loss for the duo, losses build character and challenging matchups are essential in the regular season if they want a taste of what the postseason has to offer.
Another tight loss came at fourth doubles as Daniel Liu and Tommy Lee fell 7-6 (7-1), 5-7, 12-10.
“A couple more points in the tiebreak at fourth dubs and we are looking at a 4-3 loss versus, perhaps, the top team in the section,” Romney said.
Edgemont put up a respectable effort and now only have league matches as they finish out the regular season.
With tiebreakers sprinkled throughout the matches, the Panthers know how important they are in keeping team matches close. Unlike the past few years, the Panthers have been struggling mightily in their tiebreakers and super tiebreakers. So far these crucial battles have not significantly impaired Edgemont, but could become a critical factor in both the team playoffs and the individual postseason playoffs.
Edgemont has only won two deciding super tiebreakers and have lost 11 this spring. These tiebreakers can make or break a team and with their goals of postseason glory, the Panthers will need to change their ways.
“They’re a grind,” veteran Max Cutler said. “Coach always tells us to just loosen up and while it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, we all know how important it is to slow down and focus on the basics: watch the ball, move your feet.
“We haven’t done too well so far as a team in those scenarios, but I’d be shocked if that doesn’t change as we come together to make our postseason push these last couple of weeks.”
Players expect to see more practice on tiebreaks coming up whenever there are lulls in this busy match schedule.
“I feel the team so far in the season has not reached our standards in tiebreakers,” Mellis said. “Super tiebreakers are both exciting and nerve-wracking where the entire match is decided upon just 10 points.
“I trust Coach Romney to help us improve on our losing tiebreak record, and I think he will help figure out ways to win.”