The Del Norte boys tennis team finally got its season started on Tuesday, and managed to kick off the spring sports season with a 5-2 win over Eureka.
Each of the Warriors first three meets had been cancelled due to rain. Although rain was falling throughout the afternoon on Tuesday as well, Del Norte took advantage of the indoor court at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds to get in its first competition of the year.
“It was exciting,” said Del Norte’s first-year head coach Rivers Drown. “There was kind of a buzz in the air when we all got here. I had the whole team show up. Obviously we only had three boys, so we knew only three of them were going to play, but I wanted the whole team here for camaraderie purposes. It was nice to have everybody here for introductions, and to root their teammates on.”
The Loggers have four players on the team this year, but only three were able to make the trip so Del Norte had a team victory wrapped up before play began, but the Warriors also looked good in the matches that were played.
The meet started out in doubles, where Del Norte’s No. 1 team of Xavier Young and Conner Long picked up an 8-0 victory.
“I was happy with the result — we won 8-0 so we obviously did pretty well there,” Drown said.
The No. 1 singles match was a close battle that went down to the wire, but Young eventually fell in three sets by a score of 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 to Eureka’s Max Dunham.
“He was playing mildly injured with a bit of a back injury, so he wasn’t at 100 percent,” Drown said of the Warriors’ No. 1 player. “I think he just needs to get rested up, and realize where his weaknesses were during the match. He is still waiting for that forehand to come back a little bit, and it will come back with practice.”
In the No. 2 singles match Conner Long was able to pull out a convincing 8-2 win over Eureka’s Ryan Chapman.
“I couldn’t have asked him to do anything else, other than just to watch his power,” Drown said. “I keep telling them that technique comes first, power comes later. He knew his mistakes right when he made them, and he kind of self-corrected.”
The final match of the meet was No. 3 singles, where Del Norte’s Ritik Khilnani got off to a strong start and held a decided advantage in the match with a 6-1 lead. But the Warrior sophomore was forced to forfeit the match after injuring his ankle while hustling to get to a shot during a rally with Eureka’s Ryn Albee.
“He was doing a good job of getting his opponent to move back and forth a little bit,” Drown said. “I also told him to hit the ball deep on the baseline, because he was struggling with that a little bit and he did that a couple times. I think he was moving really well. Hopefully he comes back from the injury well.”
After Del Norte’s first three matches were postponed due to rain, Drown said it was good for the players to finally have a chance to play an unfamiliar opponent.
“We have some work to do. The first match of the year I think is just about getting the bugs out,” Drown said. “In practice they play against each other four or five times a week. Today we actually had an opponent and for the first time all year it was time to play someone that they haven’t played yet. Today was about figuring out your weaknesses, and I was hoping that they would kind of identify their opponents weaknesses and capitalize on them. I think they did that pretty well today.”
With the win, Del Norte improves to 1-0 as a team this season. It was the third meet of the season for Eureka, who is now 1-2 overall this year.
The Warriors will be back in action on Saturday against St. Bernard’s. Although the official schedule lists it as a home match for Del Norte, Drown said the Warriors will instead head to Eureka on Saturday. Del Norte will then host St. Bernard’s when the teams meet again on March 28.
The Crusaders are expected to have a full squad for the meet, which will allow Del Norte to get more of its players into the action.