By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- Pairing the singles No. 1 and 6 players to form the doubles No. 2 duo is a bit unusual, but the arrangement worked well again for Central's boys tennis team, as junior Colbey Ryman and senior Michael Beaune won their No. 2 doubles match to help give Central a 6-3 win over Clarke County on Wednesday in Woodstock.
The Central pair won 10-4, against Clarke County's Tim May (No. 3 singles) and Jordan O'Hara (No. 4 singles). With Central leading 8-2 in the match, Ryman stroked his second ace of the day for a 40-15 lead and won the game with a service winner for a 9-2 advantage.
Then the Eagles tandem took the next two games, holding O'Hara's serve and breaking against Beaune's service game. The Falcons broke back against May, with game point coming at 15-40 on an unforced error.
"This is the third match we've played together in doubles," Ryman said. "We came into this [match] with a lot of confidence, especially with the way we played [against Clarke] the last time."
"[Coach Andrew Wetzel] kinda just wanted to switch everybody up to see how we are with different people," Beaune said. "He thinks [Ryman] and I would be a good match against George Mason. So, he's trying to get us a lot of experience playing together and seeing how each other plays."
After mid-season losses to Millbrook and George Mason, the Falcons got back on track, with wins against East Rockingham, Clarke County and Millbrook (an impressive 8-1 affair on April 19).
The Eagles took the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches, in closely fought contests.
At No. 1, Clarke County senior Cory Russman took on Ryman and the scores were tied at each interval 1-1 through 8-8, until Ryman held serve in a game featuring the only ace of match and an unforced error by Russman for game point, putting Ryman ahead 9-8.
In the 18th game, with Russman on serve, the players reached deuce four times before Russman hit a forehand winner at the net to knot the score at 9-9.
With Ryman on serve, game 19 went to five deuces before Russman returned a volley with a backhand cross-court to the baseline corner and followed that up with a forehand winner on an approach shot to move ahead 10-9.
Serving for the match at 40-30, Russman won 11-9 when Ryman hit a volley long.
"I beat [Ryman] in our previous match-up, 10-7, so it was also a close one," Russman said. "I put a lot of top-spin on my serve, so it looks like it's going long, but it usually dips in at the last second.
"This is my second year playing tennis. Last year was basically getting the muscle memory down. This year, I've started winning more, because I've gotten the mental side of the game down, and I've actually started to stratagize in getting the ball where I need to in order to get to the net, where I like playing."
The Eagles (0-9, 0-2 Bull Run) also prevailed in a hard-fought No. 2 singles match as Chase Ohm topped Nicholas Andrick, 10-8.
But the Falcons (8-2, 2-1 Bull Run) took the remaining singles matches, with Jesse Canzurlo besting May, 10-4 at No. 3. Brandon Carter beat O'Hara, 10-2 at No. 4, and Bobby Loveland and Beaune each shut out Steve Zumbaugh and Ben Genda, 10-0 each.
Central also fielded an unusual No. 1 doubles pair of Andrick andLoveland, which lost 10-7 to Clarke's tandem of Russman and Ohm.
The Falcons took the No. 3 doubles match, with Canzurlo and Carter beating Zumbaugh and Genda, 10-4, to complete the victory.
Wetzel noted the need to turn things around after the April 11 loss to George Mason, including radical changes to the doubles lineup.
"[Ryman and Andrick] had been playing together, because they were No.'s 1 and 2, and are good friends," Wetzel said. "In one match, I played [Andrick and Loveland] together, and they played really, really well. So, [Ryman and Beaune] were going to have to have different partners. I thought their styles would match-up well.
"They both hit slice serves, so if they ever play a team that doesn't return those well, there going to have really good success. I think that happened today. And I they're probably the two best volleyers on the team."
The Eagles are still seeking their first team victory of the season, and are still in a rebuilding process after not having a program for five years.
"I don't think we have any continuity [yet]," Eagles coach Gerald Dodson said. "We didn't have anything to build from. We had to start from square one, with stroke production and grips and holds. Strategy came much, much, later. Then pointing out all the little things that they didn't know, because they hadn't been playing."