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.
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."
The Westbrook brothers are the only two returning players from a 2012 season wracked by rainouts and inconsistent play. Del Norte overcame those obstacles to finish third at the Humboldt-Del Norte League championships.
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.
Reach Robert Husseman at firstname.lastname@example.org .