Boys tennis: Wheaton North gets boost from bottom of the lineup
Guys who play on third- or fourth-doubles tennis teams don't want to play there forever.
"I think it keeps us on edge, but we're also pushing the guys ahead of us to work harder as well," Wheaton North senior Jack Mancuso said about the underdog mentality of being part of a No. 4 doubles team. "It's kind of improving the whole team altogether."
On Tuesday in Roselle, Wheaton North handily beat Lake Park 6-1. The Falcons' lower-ranked doubles teams played a huge part in this success.
Falcons seniors Anthony Indelli and Josh Dean disposed of the Lancers' Alex Huang and Dan Evans in No. 3 doubles 6-3, 6-1. In a more competitive three-set match, Falcons seniors Mark O'Connell and Mancuso outlasted the Lancers tandem of Anthony Slade and Joey Randazzo 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 at No. 4 doubles.
"Both of those, our third doubles, our fourth doubles, and even our fifth doubles are super close in competition," Wheaton North coach Eric Laird said after the match. "They have been battling it out within our practices. It's been fun to watch them continue to be competitive and work on their consistency. It's just fun watching these guys grow as a team and grow as players."
"I think the reason we played so well today is we kept encouraging each other," Dean said. "We felt the supportive vibes from everybody, and it just really helps you play better."
The Falcons (6-3) finished 3-0 in singles play as well. At No. 1 singles Kevin Li beat Akash Patel 6-0, 6-0 in a match that took no more than 45 minutes to complete. In similarly dominant fashion, Falcons junior Adam Gaddy beat Tabshir Rizvi 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles. Falcons freshman Will Parrilli also won in convincing fashion at No. 3 singles 6-2, 6-4. Rounding out the Falcons' six victories were senior double partners David Houlihan and Jack Tegart, who won 7-5 and 6-1 in straight sets at No. 2 doubles.
The match of the afternoon, though, was at No. 1 doubles and wasn't won by the Falcons. It took three competitive sets (5-7, 6-4, 7-5) for the experienced Lancers tandem of seniors Aayush Patel and Tyler Ferengul to defeat Falcons freshmen Niku Cowart and Devon Jones. After splitting the first two sets Patel and Ferengul jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set. Cowart and Jones fought all the way back to 5-5 to force extra games. But in the end, the experience of the seniors prevailed.
"Aayush and Tyler played really well on the big points," Lancers (5-3) coach Tim Martin said. "They had a couple set points in the first set they didn't get, but in the second set they came back and played great. Then in the third set, it was back and forth. They found a way to win the big points at the end. That's two seniors who've played some good doubles together. This is a huge win for them."
Laird felt most of the matches, not just the No. 1 doubles match, were competitive.
"Every match in the DuKane Conference is going to be a battle, lots of close matches," Laird said. "Even the matches with a 6-1 score were very close within each game."