The Zink and Zak show: New singles players help Zebras edge Manchester in opener
Bowers-Reinartz roll at No. 1 doubles
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Compared to even the top professional tennis players, the Rochester boys tennis team is going to be busy during the first week and a half of the season.
They hit the ground running – or maybe better said, hit the groundstrokes running – in a 3-2 win over Manchester in their season opener at the RHS courts Tuesday.
Brayden Zink, who played at No. 2 doubles last year but who had never played a singles match before, beat Ethan Espeset 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 singles.
Zak Daake, also playing his first varsity singles match, won 6-4, 6-4 over Peyton Jones at No. 3 singles for the clinching point.
Brock Bowers and Kyle Reinartz topped Justin Hall and Isaac Reichenbach 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles. The Bowers-Reinartz partnership is new. Reinartz played No. 2 singles last year, and Bowers is a varsity newcomer.
“It’s always a great night to beat Manchester,” RHS coach Jesse Atkinson said. “They’ve been good for a lot of years, so any wins against Manchester – boys tennis, girls tennis – it’s always going to be an exciting night to beat Manchester.”
Grant McCarter suffered a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Brady Wiley at No. 1 singles. Cody Smith and Drew Strasser, both varsity newcomers, lost 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 at No. 2 doubles to Calvin Brown and Sam Hupp.
RHS improved to 1-0 overall and 1-0 in the Three Rivers Conference. This is the first of seven matches – six of them conference matches – in a 10-day span to start the season.
To put that much serving, volleying and groundstroking in perspective, the U.S. Open champion will play seven matches in 13 or 14 days.
Due to Rochester administrators pushing the start of practice by three weeks due to coronavirus exposure concerns within the student body that also delayed the start of in-class learning, the Zebras’ season is essentially three weeks long.
The IHSAA draw is Sept. 28, and sectionals begin at Culver Academy Sept. 30.
“The fluidity of 2020 continues, even with high school sports,” Atkinson said. “We’ve all had to be extraordinarily flexible with every area of our lives. We shouldn’t expect anything different with high school sports and coaching and trying to put lineups together and trying to get a season in. We have the spring off unfortunately due to everything with the pandemic, and I’m just happy to be out here at this point. And the boys are too.”
Brock Beehler, who played with Zink at No. 2 doubles last year, is out for the season with an elbow injury that will require surgery.
Another player who played varsity last year but who did not graduate decided not to play. Still, Atkinson said he’s not despairing over the numbers situation.
“Despite having a smaller team this year than what we’ve had in the past couple of years, we still have more options this year,” Atkinson said. “In years past, it seems like some people maybe played in certain positions out of necessity as opposed to they were necessarily the guy for the spot. And so this year, we’re playing with some options, which is a wonderful thing to have when you’re a coach.”
RESULTS: RHS 3, MANCHESTER 2
Brady Wiley (MAN) def. Grant McCarter (RHS), 6-4, 6-2
Brayden Zink (RHS) def. Ethan Espeset (MAN), 6-2, 6-2
Zak Daake (RHS) def. Peyton Jones (MAN), 6-4, 6-4
Brock Bowers-Kyle Reinartz (RHS) def. Justin Hall-Isaac Reichenbach (MAN), 6-1, 6-1
Calvin Brown-Sam Hupp-(MAN) def. Cody Smith-Drew Strasser (RHS), 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4
JV RESULTS: RHS 2, MANCHESTER 1
Calen Campbell (RHS) won 6-4.
Robert Bozzo-Jake Freeman (RHS) won 6-3.
Cade Johnson-Caleb Wilson (RHS) lost 6-0.