There been some close matches and some missed opportunities. Tuesday afternoon in Ellinwood it finally came together.
The Barton men’s tennis won the final match on the court to prevail 5-4 over Hesston College. The win was the first on the season for the Cougars.
“We broke through today with a nice win,” Coach Lyle Stickney said. “After dropping several close meets it was great to come out on top.”
The clincher didn’t come until Lucas Castelani closed out a thrilling win at No. 1 singles to end the day. Castelani earned a tie-breaker win over Riley Kingsley. Castelani lost the first set by a 6-3 score then came back for a 6-3 win to force the tiebreaker. Castelani won the tiebreaker 10-5 to secure the victory for the Cougars.
That finished a split of the singles matches during the afternoon.
Ray Strunk and Cole Hardin both won their matches. Strunk won 6-1 and 7-6 (4) at No. 4 over Josiah Borst. Hardin also won a tiebreaker at No. 6. Hardin won 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 over Yuki Torri. Those three singles wins – getting points at key times and closing out matches strong – were exactly the things the Cougars weren’t doing earlier in the year in the losses.
“The difference today was our ability to prevail in the tiebreakers, historically, this squad has not done well in them,” Coach Stickney said.
Luis Soares lost No. 2 singles to Keegan LeFevre 6-3, 6-3. Sam Barker lost at No. 3 to Caleb Schrock, 6-4, 6-0. Triston Herbst lost at No. 5 to Andry Stutzman, 6-2, 6-3.
The first matches of the day proved to be pivotal as Barton won two of the three doubles matches. Soares and Strunk captured No. 2 doubles, 8-5, over Schrock and Stutzman. Hardin and Herbst won at No. 3 over Oyer and Borst, 8-6.
“Ray and Cole were huge for us today winning both their singles and doubles matches,” Coach Stickney said.
Barton’s lone loss at doubles was the No. 1 team of Castelani and Barker. The duo lost 9-7 to Kingsley and LeFevre.
Barton will look for back-to-back wins when the Cougars host Bethel Thursday, again in Ellinwood, starting at 3 pm.
“Hopefully, the confidence that we gained from this win carries over into our Thursday dual with Bethel College,” Coach Stickney said.