Valley boys tennis rebounds from loss to beat Knox
Neese, Manuel win in straight sets at singles; Pettit-Walls, Minix-Reiter win at doubles
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- Recovering from a Three Rivers Conference loss to Peru in which they won five games in 10 sets, the Tippecanoe Valley boys tennis team beat Knox 4-1 at their home courts Wednesday.
Valley improved to 5-5 with a road match at Triton coming up Tuesday.
“It was a good bounce back,” Valley coach Nick Kindig said. “I think last night our guys were kind of down. We knew going in Peru was going to be really good. I mean, they always are. I think it was kind of nice to … get that match over with and move on.”
Dylan Neese and Cam Manuel won at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, for the Vikings.
Neese handled Gabe Manning 6-2, 6-1 while Manuel beat Carter Fornelli 6-1, 6-1.
“I was just playing more consistent,” Neese said. “Placing the ball better, getting my serves in.”
Neese said he tried to play every day during the summer. Neese also plays basketball, so the challenge was trying to time to play tennis on a day when he also had basketball. He said he plays against his father during the summer and hits with a couple other people during the summer.
He said he also traveled to Wawasee High School to play at the Staley Tennis Academy every Wednesday. Named for coach Shane Staley, he provides private lessons as well as an academy and club for aspiring tennis players. He also thanks Grace College coach Andy Lewis for helping him improve.
He said Kindig has helped him with refining his second serve. Neese said he’s not just trying to lob his second serve in the court but rather trying to get it to kick away from his opponent.
“I’ve been playing tennis since the end of eighth grade year, and yeah, I love tennis,” Neese said. “I love that it’s an individual sport, and I can only rely on myself. I don’t have to rely on a whole team.”
Manuel also bounced back after losses to Mishawaka and Peru earlier in the week.
“Cam played really well,” Kindig said. “I think he was real frustrated after last night. Cam being kind of a new player, he had two nights in a row where he was playing some really good players. So it was a good bounce-back for him to get his confidence going. He’s getting better every day.”
Annakin Pettit and Cooper Walls controlled Brayden Branham and A.J. Turner 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles. The most competitive match was at No. 2 doubles, where Brady Minix and Wyatt Reiter topped Heath LaRowe and Coy Taulbee 10-8 in a third set super tiebreaker after they had split the first two sets 7-5, 3-6.
Reiter typically plays No. 3 singles, but Kindig moved him to No. 2 doubles to play with Minix so everybody could have a chance to play. They let a 5-2 lead slip but recovered to take a 9-6 lead before finally finishing it on their third match point.
“They both served pretty well there,” Kindig said. “They got first serves in. I talk about all the time in doubles, you get first serves in, it gives yourself a big advantage. So they served well, and they made some plays there.”
Knox won the No. 3 singles match by default.
Results: Tippecanoe Valley 4, Knox 1
Dylan Neese (TV) def. Gabe Manning (KNOX), 6-2, 6-1
Cam Manuel (TV) def. Carter Fornelli (KNOX), 6-1, 6-1
KNOX won by forfeit.
Annakin Pettit-Cooper Walls (TV) def. Brayden Branham-A.J. Turner (KNOX), 6-2, 6-0
Brady Minix-Wyatt Reiter (TV) def. Heath LaRowe-Coy Taulbee (KNOX), 7-5, 3-6, (10-8)