Down two players in its varsity lineup, the Maryville boys tennis team still managed to route a 7-2 victory over the Southwest Valley Timberwolves April 15.
It was a sunny but slightly windy afternoon when the Spoofhounds stepped foot onto the court to face the Timberwolves in a non-conference matchup. Things started off on a high note, with the No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Mitchell Meyers and senior Caleb Yarnell getting off to a fast 7-0 lead, before taking the match 8-1.
Southwest Valley comes from the southwest part of Iowa, formed by the merging of Villisca and Corning to one high school located in Corning. This is a team that Maryville has not seen before and did not have much knowledge about them coming into this match.
“The thing is, whenever we play teams in the MEC, we’ve seen them before,” senior Mason Walk said. “If you’ve played on varsity more than one year, you’ve definitely played these guys (conference opponents) before and see what they can do and know what to expect when you come into a match. Today, I really wasn’t prepared.”
The Spoofhounds found what worked best in doubles as they won all three matches. Senior Cade Gustafson and junior doubles partner Ethan Stone started to see the Timberwolves come back toward the end of their match, before putting them away 8-3.
Stone is the No. 3 player on the team and has seen an undefeated season in singles so far. Singles is a different way of playing than doubles, but it still helps contribute to how well you are able to play when it comes to doubles.
“It (singles) helps a lot with the strokes, not so much the strategy,” Stone said. “So when you play really well in singles, you have really good forehands, backhands and serves. It doesn’t really translate with the strategy, so it helps the serves and all the strokes rather than playing together.”
Gustafson and Stone have only lost twice in doubles this season, once being in a tournament when they placed second. Both players have high expectations and hope when it comes to playing in the MEC tournament April 24.
“We’re both really good singles players, as we haven't lost a singles match yet,” Stone said. “We’re really good friends, so we don’t ever get mad at each; we’re always light-hearted. We don't get into each other's head, so we have a good relationship.”
With the conference tournament coming up next week, the ‘Hounds are doing their best to get ready through the opponents they are facing. As both junior Jaden Hayes and senior Brenden Ware are still battling injuries, coach Nicole McGinness is remaining confident heading into the tournament with the mixed lineup.
“It’s really made things a little bit different, but I am glad that those other guys could step up,” McGinness said. “They have been playing really well, so it’s been awesome to have them come up and actually get to play and play well.”
As Walk had an off day against Southwest Valley with an 8-6 loss at the No. 1 spot in singles, he is ready to bounce back and is looking to take control over the matchup with Savannah next week.
Maryville (6-1) is looking to come away with a better finish than at the start of the season, facing Savannah at home April 23. With two conference opponents right before the conference tournament, this gives Walk something to aim for when facing conference opponents in the tournament.
“My expectation is hopefully to get first or second,” Walk said. “I’ve lost to only one other guy in the MEC that was a one seed. Playing against guys that know tennis; it helps you prepare against those who know the game, more than just (having) athleticism and (those that) can hit the power shots.