Falcons fend off Hawks for tennis win

Skyline's Stefano Trentini returns a forehand shot during his doubles match against Central on Wednesday evening in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Stefano Trentini admitted he was a little off during Skyline’s boys tennis match with visiting Central on Wednesday afternoon. But it was hard to tell.

Though the Hawks dropped the match, 6-3, to Central for their 10th straight loss to open the 2015 season, Trentini — an Italian foreign-exchange student once nationally ranked in the Italian Tennis Federation (FIT) — continued to thrive on the court as he won his No. 1 singles match and teamed up with teammate Isaiah Henry to earn a victory in No. 1 doubles.

“To be honest it’s been probably the worst game I’ve played so far,” said Trentini, whose lone loss this season came to Handley’s Parker Wilson. “I don’t know why, it was just a ‘no’ day. I don’t know, my serve just would not go in. It’s probably because we went on a senior trip and I haven’t played for one entire week, so that’s probably why. I was just like I’ll take the best I have. It wasn’t great, but it was enough to win.”

In matches that didn’t feature Trentini, Central — playing without No. 2 singles player Bobby Loveland (illness) — found plenty of success en route to its fourth win in five matches to improve its record to 6-2 (4-1 Conference 28) this spring. The Falcons claimed two of the three doubles matches to start the evening and earned victories in four of the six singles matches.

“I kind of expected to win it but it was actually closer than I thought it would be, which makes it more fun actually,” said Falcons coach Luke Robinson, whose team beat Skyline 7-2 in their first meeting on April 1.

Central's Sam Snarr follows through with a forehand against Skyline last year in Front Royal. Snarr, a senior, will be one of Central's top players this season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

After a rain shower and subsequent court maintenance delayed the start of Wednesday’s match for more than an hour, play began with doubles as Central’s Brandon Davis and Joshua Sherman beat Skyline’s Michael Bellu and Corban Ruch, 8-0, in No. 3 doubles to tally the match’s first score.

The Falcons took a 2-0 lead after Aaron Taff and Austin Sherman beat Michael O’Malley and Nathan Scott, 8-2, at No. 2 doubles before Skyline pulled within one with its victory at No. 1.

Forced to shuffle the Hawks’ (0-10) lineup due to the absence of Skyline’s No. 2 and No. 3 singles players Joseph Park and Luke Cline, coach Deb Ramsey opted to turn to the freshman Henry as Trentini’s doubles partner. Trentini said he’d only played alongside Henry once before Wednesday’s match, but the duo was still able to pull out an 8-6 win over Central’s Sam Barbour and Sam Snarr — another pair with limited experience playing together due to Loveland’s absence — after trailing for most of the set.

“I was positive about it,” Trentini said. ” … I know he doesn’t feel confident on the net, so the coach and I talked and we were like if they start picking on him and hitting at him on the net every time, just pull him back and stuff. I was just like, ‘keep it cross-court and try to serve the first one in.’ We figured something out.”

In singles, Snarr rebounded from his doubles loss as he rolled to a quick 8-0 win over Bellu at No. 3 singles to give Central a 3-1 lead.

Central's Sam Barbour hits an off-balance shot during his doubles match Wednesday evening at Skyline High School in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

“Singles is more of my thing,” Snarr said. “I really like that because I’ve got a pretty powerful forehand. I like just getting back and smacking it. The guy I played, he was real good as well. He was the four-seed last time and he moved down to three so it was probably a little tough on him, but it was a good challenge.”

At No. 1 singles Barbour, a 10-1 loser to Trentini in their first meeting this season, won two of the first five games against Trentini before the Skyline senior won five straight to pick up the 8-2 win.

“Number one was fun to watch. For a little while, I thought he had a chance,” Robinson said of Barbour. “I told him just to have fun with it because that guy’s incredible.”

After Davis beat Skyline’s Scott 8-1 at No. 6 in his first singles match this season, Henry picked up the Hawks’ second singles win with an 8-2 victory over Caleb Fredman at No. 2 to cut Central’s lead to 4-3. But Austin Sherman clinched the Falcons’ victory with an 8-5 win over Chandler Heard at No. 5 singles.

Taff capped Central’s win by beating O’Malley, 8-5, at No. 4 singles.

“Right now we’re playing without our No. 2 and our No. 3 players and that really affects our lineup,” Ramsey said. “All of the guys are stepping up and playing well. This team has progressed so far already. Coming into the season we only had three players who had any match experience whatsoever, so we’re playing with a lot of inexperienced players and they’re doing everything that’s been asked of them.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com