The Neuqua Valley boys tennis team started the Upstate Eight Valley season as many expected it would, with a 7-0 win over Metea Valley on Thursday in Aurora.
The Wildcats, who have dominated the UEC for years, swept the Mustangs (1-2, 0-1) thanks to a third-set victory in No. 1 singles from Brett Meyer and third-set victory in No. 2 doubles by Michael Emory and Jack Monovich.
"We've still got a big learning curve," Wildcats coach Trudy Bennorth said. "I've got three singles players in two doubles positions, so three out of four singles players. So we're still learning and still getting comfortable and we're still learning about our partners… . It makes you feel better that we've worked well against Metea because Metea has got a nice team."
Meyer came back after falling in the first set to Kyle Chin to take the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, while Emory and Monovich also battled back to take down Vidul Murali and Srijon Khare for a 6-7, 6-1, 6-3 win.
"We've done better against Neuqua than we've done in years past," said Metea Valley coach Karly Olson. "I mean we lost, but we're a lot more competitive. A lot of sets were close, we won a couple sets… . So we're improving, we can take that away."
Neuqua (3-0, 1-0) got an early boost from freshman Jackson Keating in the No. 2 singles spot. Keating -- in his first conference matchup -- defeated senior Kevin Brown 6-4, 6-1.
"I just tried to stay really solid throughout the match," Keating said. "(Brown) was really good at keeping balls in play, so in the second set I decided to come to the net more and finish some more points."
Early on Bennorth likes what she sees from Keating.
"He's a big hitter, he's got a big serve, he's solid at net. He's pretty tournament tough and we're excited to get him."
Last season state qualifier junior Amit Iyer found himself paired up with senior Colton Lubergh in the No. 1 doubles spot. Despite Bennorth's concern in doubles play the two took the match 6-4, 6-3 over Metea's Avery Holt and Jeremy Forbes.
"I'd say we're hoping, realistically, to get second in conference," Olson said. "I'd say Waubonsie is probably going to be our biggest competitor. I'd say if we can get second in conference and win a few matches against Neuqua in our conference tournament I'd be happy."