Boys’ tennis enjoyed its home opener on a sunny and warm Wednesday afternoon, a welcome departure from the cold and/or damp conditions of the past week. We welcomed the Kingswood-Oxford Wyverns (Wikipedia: “A wyvern, known as Viverna in Italian, is a legendary creature with a dragon’s head and wings, a reptilian body, two legs, and a tail.”) and coach Andy, a longtime friend of Deerfield, to campus for a midafternoon start. The proximity of the Pioneer Valley allowed several Kingswood parents to make the trip, and so we played in front of an unusually large crowd which eventually reached double digits in number. On our side, the crowd included emeritus coach Jay Morsman ’55 (in his usual blue winter coat), as well as superfan Wondo.
Having acquitted ourselves nicely in the doubles portion of last weekend’s tournament, we were optimistic at the start of the match, but KO had no intention of letting us get even a whiff of today’s doubles point. Their #2 team included blue-chip Matthew Lord, ranked #14 nationally in his graduating class; our #2 team included Scott and Darren. As Lord made it rain from all over the court, our boys could never really get started, going down a quick 8-1. On court 3, Alf-dawg and Wrecktai got off to a strong start, but after getting broken at 2-2, errors began to pile up and they went down 8-3. Play on court 1 was suspended at 5-5, with Carl and Matthew having just found a groove after going down an early break.
Down a quick 1-0 and facing a formidable singles lineup, the score became tied in a way no coach ever wants to see – KO’s #2, Appleton the elder, was beset by sudden sharp and shooting pain up his arm and had to retire early in the first set. At #1, Carl faced off against Lord for the second time in five days; he was motivated to improve on his previous result, where he held serve three times but was unable to get to a break point. After going down 1-4 and 3-5, not only did Carl earn a break point, he converted (!), finding himself on serve at 4-5 deep in the first set. However, a few down-the-line screamers from Lord quickly reversed the momentum, as broke to take the first, and in due time claim the second. Props to Carl for sticking to his game and refusing to back down, even in the big moments. If he can break Lord, he can break anyone, and we’ll look to build on this.
Darren played Briggs close in the first, standing strong against Austin’s fearless net-rushing, but came up just short. He admittedly got a little tight in the second and gave up a couple of breaks, and Briggs sealed the deal 4 and 1 to put KO within one point of the clinch.
Matthew drew the talented freshman Riemann at #4, where they matched up in a strikingly similar style of play. Luke repeatedly forced the issue, moving inside the baseline whenever possible and frequently taking the ball on the rise. Matthew has a good attacking game of his own, but his opponent was just too good today. Riemann’s win clinched the match for Kingswood with two players still on court.
At #6, Gideon went toe-to-toe with Albanesi, eventually serving out the set at 5-4 after a marathon (and anxiety-inducing) game. A brief chat with his coach enabled Gideon to relax and tighten up his strategy in the second set, which he comfortably took 6-1.
All eyes turned to Alfi, locked in battle with Gould on the far court. Alfi played a steady baseline game in the first, working his way to a 6-3 win, but renewed effort and increasingly offensive play from Gould led to a closer second set, which the Wyvern took 7-5. A close super-breaker ended in Deerfield’s favor, as Alfi took it 10-8 to set the final score at a respectable 4-3 to the visitors.
Our record stands at 1-1, with Taft coming to town on Saturday. Two areas of attention for the next two days will be doubles play and serving, and we’ll see where that takes us. Thanks to Mrs. Danforth and Mrs. Auersperg for the support and snacks today!
As always, follow us on Twitter, @deerfieldtennis, for live match updates.
Kingswood-Oxford 4, Deerfield 3
Jacob Appleton/Austin Briggs (K) vs. Carl Grant/Matthew Wuyan 5-5, susp.
Matthew Lord/William Appleton (KO) d. Scott Danforth/Darren Ho 8-1
Luke Riemann/Brian Gould (KO). d. Alfi Auersperg/Gideon Yektai 8-3
Lord (K) d. Grant (D) 6-4, 6-2
Danforth (D) d. J. Appleton (K) 3-3, ret.
Briggs (K) d. Ho (D) 6-4, 6-1
Riemann (K) d. Wuyan (D) 6-4, 6-3
Auersperg (D) d. Gould (K) 6-3, 5-7, 10-8
Yektai (D) d. Ryan Albanesi (K) 6-4, 6-1