Choo Choo Strain: Tennis Comes Up Just Short in Chattanooga
Sometimes you have to sacrifice short-term success in favor of long-term progress.
That’s precisely what Jesuit tennis coach Travis Smith did at the DecoTurf High School Team Championships this weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Jays brought an 11-man contingent to the tournament and committed to using each player in a dual-meet format that only required six. The result was an 0-3 match record, but that didn’t faze Smith at all.
“I suppose we could have squeaked out a win or two, particularly in the second match, but we decided going in that it was more important to get quality matches for more than six guys, especially given that regional and state competition here in Louisiana involves eight players,” said Smith.
“We’ve got some fierce intrasquad battles going on for those eight regional slots and there’s not a whole lot of separation right now among our top twelve guys (senior doubles specialist Lee Blosser did not make the trip due to baseball obligations). They all deserved the chance to get better this weekend, and that’s exactly what happened.”
The Jays opened play on Friday, March 16 with an 8-1 loss to Niceville (Florida), with junior Dex Webster garnering a win at Line 5 singles to avoid the shutout.
In the second round, the Jays picked up two wins against Webb School of Knoxville (Tennessee) in singles. Sophomores Sid Trouard and Pierce Westbrook beat their opponents on Lines 4 and 6, respectively, giving the team a chance heading into the doubles. That’s where the highlight of the day occurred, with senior Christian Lacoste and sophomore Jojo Sandoz winning a tiebreaker on Line 1. Juniors Cole LaCour and Dex Webster also picked up a win on Line 3, but senior Andrew Ryan and junior Colin Meyer, who played excellent doubles against strong competition all weekend, were unable to complete sweep on Line 2.
On Saturday, the Jays squared off against McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Alabama). This time, doubles was first up, and Trouard and Westbrook were first off the court with a win on Line 3. But McGill-Toolen took the other two matches to lead 2-1 heading into the six singles matches.
Sophomore Wes Melito got the Jays off to a good start, tying the score at 2-2 after defeating his opponent on Line 5 in straight sets. Lacoste was the next off on Line 3, giving the Jays a brief 3-2 lead. But Jesuit could only muster one more singles point, a thrilling third-set tiebreaker win on Line 6 by freshman David Webster. That left the boys in blue and white on the short end of their second straight 5-4 loss.
Jesuit returns to local action, where they remain undefeated, on Tuesday, March 27 against Newman. Match time is 4:00 p.m. at the UNO Tennis Center.