Li­ons lose a cou­ple of close ones

Eas­ton’ boys wrap up reg­u­lar-sea­son sweep with 4-3 vic­tory; girls’ matches also fin­ish at 4-3

Record Observer - - Sports - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@star­dem.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — The fi­nal team score was just as close, the match scores, not so much.

Af­ter ek­ing out a 4-3 team vic­tory over Queen Anne’s County on the last day of March, Eas­ton High’s boys’ tennis team cre­ated a lit­tle more dis­tance in the match scores last Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Eas­ton’s No. 1 Lu­cas Joshi pro­duced a solid 8-3 vic­tory over Queen Anne’s Rob­bie Kight, and No. 5 Alex Matsche ral­lied from not-so-far down against Alex Downes, as the War­riors com­pleted a reg­u­larsea­son sweep of the Li­ons with an­other 4-3 win.

Matsche had to mount a re­mark­able rally, from a 7-3 deficit, to de­feat Downes, 9-7, in a thrilling fin­ish of the two teams’ first meet­ing. This time, Matsche ral­lied from only 3-1 down on his way to an 8-5 vic­tory, mak­ing the fi­nal match of the af­ter­noon moot.

Queen Anne’s Austin Thomas topped Eas­ton’s Ai­den Steinly, 8-4, at No. 4 sin­gles in the last match played on a breezy, warm af­ter­noon.

Eas­ton’s Lu­cas Tondin topped Parker Martin, 8-3, in No. 3 sin­gles and the War­riors’ No. 2 dou­bles team of Chris­tian Startt and Xavier Rahim shut out Sabas­tian Jeram­icco and Josh Rat­tel, 8-0.

The sweep over Queen Anne’s puts Eas­ton (11-0, 100) in a fa­vor­able po­si­tion to claim its first North Bay­side ti­tle since 1983.

“I was very proud of our team,” Eas­ton as­sis­tant coach Grant May­hew said. “We knew it was a big match go­ing into it. We had a good prac­tice yes­ter­day to pre­pare for it and we came out here very fo­cused. We knew from the first time that we played them that they were go­ing to be tough, and they were go­ing to fight us.”

The Li­ons (12-2, 10-2) re­ceived a sin­gles win from Blake Witt at No. 2, an 8-3 vic­tory over Devin Wil­liams. Queen Anne’s No. 1 dou­bles team of Tan­ner Mor­ris and Matt Lutz de­feated Sean Wil­son and Brian Me­jia, 8-6.

Joshi used his ar­se­nal of con­sis­tent, well-struck ground strokes for a solid win, af­ter a hard-fought 8-6 vic­tory over Kight in their first meet­ing of the sea­son.

“He’s a very tough com­peti­tor,” Joshi said. “I al­ways en­joy play­ing him be­cause I think he brings out the best in me. My coach was telling me that I should just run him around the court and I think I was do­ing a good job of run­ning him around and mak­ing him make the er­rors.”

Joshi, a fresh­man, said his game is im­prov­ing as the sea­son pro­gresses.

“Play­ing all th­ese great com­peti­tors has re­ally helped me im­prove my game, so I’m very thank­ful for that,” he said.

Matsche broke Downes’ serve in a four-deuce game to take con­trol of the No. 5 match. Downes hurt him­self with a pair of dou­ble faults, both com­ing on po­ten­tial game points. Af­ter his sec­ond dou­ble fault, Downes also sent a fore­hand wide of the court for ad-out. He bounced back to cre­ate an­other tie with a fore­hand smash at the net, but sent a fore­hand long and an­other into the net as Matsche took a 7-5 lead.

Matsche then served out the match. He placed a foreThe

hand deep to Downes’ back­hand side for the fi­nal point.

“I was def­i­nitely more men­tally pre­pared for this match,” said Matsche. “I wasn’t re­ally mess­ing around.”

“Alex and Lu­cas are both fresh­men and you can see how much they’ve de­vel­oped,” said May­hew. “Alex ac­tu­ally went out there say­ing: ‘I’m not ever go­ing to get down like I did that first match ever again.’ … Lu­cas, our No. 1, … when he was up big there at the end, he did not take his foot off the gas. He just kept go­ing and tried to wear this guy down and not let him have any chance to breathe.”

In the girls’ com­pe­ti­tion, Eas­ton’s Sophia Den­ton, mov­ing up from dou­bles be­cause of an ab­sence, ral­lied from a 4-1 deficit in No. 5 sin­gles for an 8-6 vic­tory over Izzy Cov­ing­ton as the War­riors edged Queen Anne’s 4-3. Cov­ing­ton had also played dou­bles in the teams’ first matchup, a 6-1 War­riors win. Eas­ton (8-3, 8-2) also got sin­gles vic­to­ries this time from Ella Joshi, Ina Lucero, and Sarah Deven­ney.

Brooke Hol­lis earned the Li­ons’ lone sin­gles vic­tory, 8-5 over Hali Ul­rick. Queen Anne’s (77, 6-6) also won both dou­bles matches, get­ting wins from Zoe Cole­man and Caitlin Lea­ger, 9-8, at No. 1, and Kather­ine Priddy and Kay­lyn Workinger, 8-5, at No. 2. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss Email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com

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