The Incline boys’ tennis team stumbled out of the blocks by dropping close matches to Spanish Springs, 11-7, and South Tahoe, 10-8, last week, but recovered to defeat Sparks, 10-8, on Tuesday.
The young squad, playing this season without last year’s standout state qualifier, Miles Primm, battled hard in the season home opener against Spanish Springs, thanks mainly to the magnificent singles play of senior Alex Schrage and sophomore Cole Steinberg. Both boys swept their matches at 3-0, mixing strong play from the baseline and timely transition tennis and excellent net play.
Spanish Springs played three returning singles players but could only find wins against Nicky Witty, Incline’s rookie starter. Witty played with great composure and heart in his first varsity matches, displaying sound ground strokes and the foundation for a very promising season.
The doubles team of Russell Conway and Jack Miller produced one win and the only other points of the day for the underdog Highlanders. The other doubles teams of Freshman Blake Perry/Cameron Reign and William Orenburg/Jake Keller, were kept off the scoreboard by the very strong play of each Spanish Springs doubles team.
Starting the same lineup at South Tahoe, the Highlanders proved they had kicked away the opening-day butterflies and put forward an effort much more becoming of the squad.
Schrage and Steinberg again led the way with great all-around efforts, both physically and mentally, each winning twice and dropping one. Witty also broke into the win column with his first singles win, and suffered a gut-check loss in the day’s final match.
Conway/Miller and Perry/Reign played well against the seasoned doubles teams from South Tahoe and each produced nice wins. Perry and Reign showed exceptional character by bouncing back from a 3-5 hole to register a thrilling 7-6 tiebreak win that pushed the Vikings to the limit before sneaking out the narrow match win.
The boys stepped into the win column Tuesday with their 10-8 win over a reduced but determined Sparks squad.-
Incline again was led by the play of Schrage and Steinberg, who each went 2-1, losing only to a highly talented No. 1 sparks singles player, Eric Lopez. -
Witty, playing with a badly bruised right hand, struggled but was able to pull off an additional singles win. The No. 1 doubles team of Conway and Miller capped off the win with two dominating efforts against the Nos. 1 and 3 Sparks doubles teams.
Incline will look to improve its record to 2-2 when it hosts Damonte Ranch on Thursday afternoon. The Highlanders then host Bishop Manogue on Thursday, Sept. 13. All home matches are played at the Incline Tennis Center at 3 p.m.