After all the tennis played Tuesday afternoon at Del Norte High School, three game points would decide the Del Norte boys tennis team’s match against McKinleyville High.
Del Norte senior Blair Westbrook readies a backhand shot in the Warriors’ team match against McKinleyville Tuesday at Del Norte High School. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
The No. 1 doubles match, the last of the day, was deadlocked at 5-5 in a pro set. The Panthers’ team of Nick Thomas and Will Clark pulled ahead to beat Del Norte’s Blair and Alec Westbrook, 8-6.
The victory gave McKinleyville a 5-4 team win over the Warriors.
“Everybody played well today,” Del Norte head coach Sara Sampels said. “We learned something for the next match. We’ll keep fighting.”
The Warriors (2-2) started out from behind on the day, forfeiting the No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles matches due to senior Christian Wong’s ankle injury.
Del Norte split the contested doubles matches and won three of the five contested singles matches — but it wasn’t enough.
Warrior senior Daniel Quick was the only player to win both of his matches on the day. Quick defeated McKinleyville’s William Whitehead, 7-5, 6-3, at No. 4 singles, then teamed up with fellow senior and friend Doug Ovick to defeat Erik Vodden and Peter Oliver of the Panthers, 8-3, in the No. 2 doubles match.
“I had a couple aces (on serve),” Quick said of his singles match. “Mainly rushing the net — he’d be there and I’d return it to get the quick volley.”
Alec Westbrook, a sophomore, defeated Clark, 6-4, 6-3, in the No. 2 singles match, and freshman Cameron Douglas scored an important team point with a 6-2, 6-1 win over McKinleyville’s Kanyon Dickinson at No. 5 singles.
Blair Westbrook took an early lead on the Panthers’ Thomas in the No. 1 singles match but dropped the second set and never led in the third set, falling 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the afternoon’s longest match.
“He hit the ball really well,” Westbrook said. “I kind of went away from what I did (that was successful). He got momentum, and I lost all my momentum.”
Blair Westbrook recruited Ovick and Quick, who played on the Warriors’ varsity basketball team alongside him. Neither had played tennis in a competitive setting before, nor had Douglas or Wong.
“I’ve figured out how to keep score,” Ovick said. “It’s a lot different than any other sport.”
Even as the team learns and grows together, the connections made off the court make the on-court work more enjoyable.
“It’s a blast,” Westbrook said. “We’re having a good time this year.”
Arcata 8, Del Norte 1
Blair Westbrook was the lone player to win a match, at No. 1 singles, for the Warriors in a road loss to the Tigers on Thursday.
Del Norte’s next match will be Tuesday at St. Bernard’s Catholic High in Eureka.