BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester boys tennis team got back from Whitko Wednesday night, and coach Jesse Atkinson had a talk with his players.
One day later, they ended their four-match losing streak to end a frustrating week.
The Zebras bounced back with a 5-0 win over sectional rival Knox at the RHS courts Thursday.
Grant McCarter, Brayden Zink and Zak Daake won in singles. Brock Bowers and Kyle Reinartz won their No. 1 doubles match, and Cody Smith and Drew Strasser won their match at No. 2 doubles.
“It was very important for all of our mental health,” RHS coach Jesse Atkinson said. “We’ve had a tough week. I just got done telling the boys through our TRC season that I’m consistently looking at a Three Rivers Conference in tennis that is increasingly getting stronger every single year.”
Not only did the Zebras win all five matches in straight sets, but Knox never won more than two games in any of the 10 sets. That followed a week where RHS lost 3-2 to Tippecanoe Valley, 4-1 to Peru and 3-2 to Whitko.
The win brought special relief to the singles players, who went 0-9 against Valley, Peru and Whitko combined.
No. 1 player McCarter beat Devon Himes 6-2, 6-1. Zink won 6-0, 6-2 over Gabe Manning at No. 2. Daake handled Brandon Fifer 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3. McCarter and Zink appeared to hit from the center of the court and force Knox players to expend a lot of energy to retrieve balls.
“We had a pretty long talk last night once we got home last night,” Atkinson said. “All of us, the whole team. I think that was pretty cathartic for all of us and just to get some frustrations and things like that out there and talk through some little things we can fix here and there right now without going out and hitting a bunch of balls. And you can definitely tell that came through tonight. Because our singles players did a great job of playing within themselves and not letting the moment be too big for where they were and what they were doing.”
While the singles players might have struggled this week, Bowers and Reinartz did not. They went 4-0 on the week and are 6-1 on the season.
“Brock is one of my sophomores who has really stepped up and had a great year, and he’s embraced the role that he’s been in,” Atkinson said. “You watch him, and you just see him every single day learning a lot from Kyle, a senior veteran for a lack of better words has been there and done that. He knows what to expect, and he knows how to get out there and win.”
RHS also won the JV match 4-0.
Sectional draw Sept. 28
The IHSAA announced Friday that the sectional draw will occur at 7 p.m. Sept. 28.
Sectionals will be held statewide Sept. 30-Oct. 3.
RESULTS: ROCHESTER 4, KNOX 1
Grant McCarter (RHS) def. Devin Himes (KNOX), 6-2, 6-1
Brayden Zink (RHS) def. Gabe Manning (KNOX), 6-0, 6-2
Zak Daake (RHS) def. Brandon Fifer (KNOX), 6-0, 6-1
Brock Bowers-Kyle Reinartz (RHS) def. Colin Bottorff-Carter Fornelli (KNOX), 6-0, 6-1
Cody Smith-Drew Strasser (RHS) def. Braydon Branham-A.J. Turner (KNOX), 6-1, 6-2
JV RESULTS: RHS 4, KNOX 0
Jake Freeman (RHS) won 6-0.
Caleb Wilson (RHS) won 6-2.
Cade Johnson (RHS) won 6-1.
Robert Bozzo-Calen Campbell (RHS) won 6-0.