By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County and James Wood braved the cold and the wind that has become an all too familiar presence during the early part of the high school boys tennis season on Tuesday, as both teams sought to pick up their first victory of the year.
Fortunately for host Warren County, the Wildcats were able to overcome some early-season struggles to pick up a much needed 6-3 win over the Colonels. Warren County entered Tuesday's contest having won just one set in its first three matches.
"I think this will help us throughout the rest of the season," Wildcats junior Michael Medrano said of Tuesday's victory. "The first win is always pretty crucial. We lost a few seniors from last year, and I think that's why we're a pretty young team and not as skilled as last year. But we're working through it."
Medrano, the Wildcats' No. 2 in singles, certainly did his part to help Warren County (1-3) finally crack the win column. Medrano shook off a sluggish start in his singles match against James Wood junior Travis Beeler to cruise to a 10-3 win, and then helped the Wildcats seize a 10-3 victory in the No. 2 doubles match.
At No. 2 singles, Medrano fell behind 2-1 after winning the first game of the set, but he found his groove after that and won nine of the final 10 games. Tuesday was Medrano's first set-victory of the season.
Medrano and teammate Cody Vaughan - also a winner in No. 5 singles for the first time this year - kept the momentum going in the doubles match, beating the James Wood duo of Christian Whitacre and Jacob Calabrese.
Medrano credited an increased emphasis in communication between he and Vaughan as the key to their win.
"I feel like my partner and I, the last week or so, we've gotten real in key," Medrano said. "We've been working on communication and I think that helped today in our match."
Things didn't start so well on Tuesday for the Wildcats in the No. 1 singles match, as Warren County junior Tyler Wright struggled against Colonels junior Mason Beeler. Wright fell behind 8-5 in the set before attempting a late comeback, but Wright ultimately fell 10-8.
Wright - who admits he sometimes gets down on himself during matches - became visibly frustrated during the middle games, and the junior never seemed to recover.
"I make stupid mistakes that I know that I'm doing wrong, I just can't find a way to correct them," Wright said. "[Mason Beeler] played good and I just tried to play net a lot and it didn't really work out the way I wanted it. It was disappointing, but it happens."
Wright was able to get a little redemption for his singles loss, as he and teammate Glen Pinard rallied from an 8-5 deficit against the Beeler twins to win 10-8 in the No. 1 doubles match.
Wright's net play was more consistent in the doubles contest, and Wright's forehand smash at the net sealed the comeback victory in the set.
Pinard was also a winner at No. 3 singles for Warren County, as he picked up a 10-2 win over Whitacre. Wildcats sophomore Matt Shiflett was a 10-5 winner over Calabrese at No. 4 singles, and Vaughan won 10-5 over Colonels freshman Austin Harney at No. 5.
James Wood's Michael Weimer won the No. 6 singles contest as Warren County's Dylan Ross was forced to forfeit after spraining his ankle during the match. Weimer and Harney were 10-8 victors over Shiflett and Brady Bryant in No. 3 doubles.
Warren County lost three players to graduation from last year's team, and Wildcats coach Robert Deavers said he expected some growing pains during the early part of the season.
"We lost numbers one, two and four to graduation, so we're still trying to fill those spots," Deavers said. "They were all four-year members [of the program]. It's nice to have Wright - this is actually his fourth year with us. That has helped a lot."
"Michael Medrano, he was getting his serve in and doing well and positioning the ball well. He played really strong. And [Pinard] played well, he was able to command the ball and put it where he wanted to."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com