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WARSAW – For the Columbia City Eagle Tennis team this has been a match that they have pointed to since a close 3-2 loss last year. With all the build-up and preparation in place the Eagles had to deal with an emotional letdown when they found out in the morning that number one singles player Dylan Hinen was unavailable due to illness. The Eagles picked up the pieces and played well, but fell in the season opener to Warsaw by a 3-2 count.
“This was not really the way we wanted to start (with Dylan Hinen being unavailable) as this was a year that we really thought we could get Warsaw,” said Eagle head coach Doug Stoffel.
At the number one singles spot, sophomore Devin Moore was put into the mix to leave the rest of the Eagle lineup intact. Moore thrust into his first varsity match showed some early jitters falling by a 6-0 count to Warsaw’s Keaton Joyner. Moore came back regrouping in the second set taking a 5-4 lead and eventually forcing a tie-breaker in the second set before falling by a 7-6 score, with the tie-breaker going 2-7.
The Eagles picked up a win at number one doubles when the senior duo of Alan Murphy and J. T. Biggs dispatched the Warsaw pairing of Nick Shoemaker and Scott Campbell by a 6-4 6-1 score.
The Tigers took the number two doubles match, where senior Cole Craven, playing his first doubles match, and his partner junior Gabe Boles fell by a close 5-7, 5-7 count.
With the match undecided, the number two and number three singles matches both went to a third set. In the number two match, Columbia City senior Travis Johnson and Warsaw’s Brenton Reynor split the first two sets with Reynor taking the first set 6-1 and Johnson taking the second 7-5. In the deciding set Johnson fell by a 6-0 score, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
The final varsity match at number three singles lasted a brutal two hours 55 minutes, as Eagle Derek Hinen squared off against the Tigers’ Evan Miller. Miller came back from a 5-2 deficit in the first set to win 7-5. Hinen knotted the match at a set apiece with a 6-1 win in the second set. Hinen took a 3-0 lead in the third before Miller came back to make the score 3-2. Hinen used a strong net game to close out the third set and the match by a 6-3 score to account for the final 2-3 match score.
“We had been gearing up for this match since last year,” said Stoffel, “and we were ready to play and then we sort of had the rug pulled out from under us.” “We talked about how everybody had to step up and to a large extent they did.” “With this being their (Warsaw’s) second match and our first they seemed to start faster in almost every match, and we were playing catch up the whole rest of the night,” noted Stoffel. “From a learning standpoint we have to get off to a better start.”
The Eagles will try to get off to that better start Thursday night when they travel to Adams Central for a match with the Flying Jets.