WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg High School boys tennis team, the defending Southern Ohio Conference champion, is off to a fast start to the 2022 campaign —with three SOC wins already in a matter of a week’s time.
Sandwiched between a 4-1 win over visiting Clay last Wednesday, and a 5-0 shutout of visiting Valley on Monday, the Pirates performed under immense pressure on Saturday — and rallied for a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Minford to complete the comeback in a match suspended from March 29.
At that time, the Pirates —playing at Minford in the season opener —trailed 2-0 when the contest was suspended due to inclement weather.
At first doubles, Minford’s Kaden Kelley and Dillon Osborne already swept Colson Arnold and Austin Collier 7-5 and 6-6 (5-7), and Charlie Neal notched a first-singles sweep over Alex Thomas 6-3 and 6-2.
But the Pirates reversed course on Saturday —gaining identical 6-4 and 6-1 sweeps at second doubles and third singles, and Preslee Etterling amassing a three-set marathon win at second singles over Nathaniel King.
Etterling outlasted King with 6-1 wins in the opening and closing sets, as King claimed the second set 7-5 (7-5).
Gavin Rase and Chaz Myers won at second doubles, while Nathan Sylvia did the same at third singles.
Against Clay, the Pirates swept the three singles matches with straight-set sweeps —and split the doubles matches with only Collier and Arnold losing at first doubles (5-7, 4-6) to Kenny Fowler and Bobby Deal.
Thomas (6-3, 6-1) at first singles, Etterling (6-3, 6-3) at second singles, Sylvia (6-1, 6-0) at third singles, and Race and Myers (6-3, 6-0) at second doubles defeated their Panther opponents in straight sets.
Against Valley, the Pirates shuffled the lineup —yet still managed to pitch the shutout against the Indians.
In fact, all five Wheelersburg wins were way of straight-set sweeps.
Thomas and Etterling at first doubles won with identical 6-1 and 6-1 tallies, while Rase and Arnold earned a 6-2 and 6-3 win at doubles spot number two.
Sylvia’s 6-0 and 6-0 first-singles shutout spearheaded singles play, as regular doubles Pirates Collier (6-1 and 6-4 at second singles) and Myers (6-0 and 6-1 at third singles) made it good for the 5-0 win.
A pair of non-league Pirate matches, at Portsmouth from Friday and at Ironton on Tuesday, were weathered out.
The match against Portsmouth is rescheduled for Thursday, April 21 —as the Pirates return home, and return to SOC action, on Friday against New Boston.
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