Pats sweep Rangers on tennis courtSeptember 1, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
FERDINAND — Light rain made its presence, but hardly an impact, Tuesday on the tennis court, as Heritage Hills swept host Forest Park, 5-0.
The Patriots (2-2, 2-0) remained undefeated in Pocket Athletic Conference play by taking all three singles and both doubles matches against the Rangers (3-4, 2-3). Heritage Hills not only won every match, but also won every set on Tuesday. The Pats have won their second straight match after being swept by Loogootee and Evansville North to open the season.
“Starting off at the beginning of the year, our serves were struggling a little bit,” First-year Pats coach Derek Prior said. “We’re starting to get in the flow. (The) guys are working hard in practice, and we’re just happy to get some wins here.”
Prior asked his team to work on getting those first serves in, and he felt they were doing just that and got some good returns. He likes the way his doubles pairings have played these last two matches, and the Pats had a youthful, but effective singles lineup against the Pats. No. 2 singles player Kayden Bell and No. 3 singles player Kevin Dilger, both sophomores, contributed to the sweep.
“From what I’ve heard, they really worked hard over the summer, both of them, on their games, and it’s shown quite a bit,” Prior said of Bell and Dilger. “Kayden at number two — he just works his butt off, both him and Kevin. They put in extra time other than practice. So, when you do that, you’re going to be successful and you’re going to get better.”
Rangers coach Dean Blessinger believed the more fundamentally sound team won on Tuesday. He told the Herald that Forest Park would have Wednesday off before going back to practice on Thursday to work on its fundamentals. Blessinger is looking for common ground from his team, for they either play very well or don’t play very well.
“We could play two or three balls, but when your technique’s not as good as your opponent, and you get into a hitting fest with them, you are not going to beat them,” Blessinger said. “We had a choice to either win points early, or lose them in a fundamental battle, and they were better fundamentally than us.”
He’s hoping the Rangers will improve on their decision making out on the court. Blessinger has emphasized serving for years, but believes that Forest Park’s still isn’t good enough. He wants to see his players compromise the opposition with their serves, and it’s frustrating to him when they don’t.
Blessinger nevertheless felt his players played hard against the Pats. He knows that the Rangers have a lot of youth in their doubles teams. So, the emphasis is to make sure Forest Park does well in singles to win matches. The No. 1 singles match between Heritage Hills senior Josh Dellamuth and Forest Park senior Nathan Jarboe was a matter of emphasis. Dellamuth emerged with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Jarboe to lock down the No. 1 singles match.
“I’m a little tiny bit disappointed in my one singles tonight, but listen, his opponent played exceptionally well tonight,” Blessinger said. “He out-slugged my guy. He was willing to get behind the baseline and just out-stroke him.”
The Rangers coach praised the capabilities of both No. 1 singles players, as he believes both Jarboe and Dellamuth are good enough to continue their tennis careers somewhere at a small college.
Forest Park will have the rest of the week off in terms of matches, and is scheduled to be back at it Sept. 8 at Southridge. Blessinger is hoping the Rangers will get better on their short shots and making them at angles; and it all starts with getting better with those on warmups.
“We’ll go back to look at our serving, and we’re not getting enough depth on our cross court forehands and backhands,” he said. “We played way too many balls in the center of the court. We got to move out of the center of the court.”
The Pats will also play the Raiders the next time they step out onto the tennis court, but it will be a shorter turnaround. Heritage Hills is scheduled on Thursday to host Southridge in an effort to extend its PAC record to 3-0.
“It’s the same thing we keep talking about every day — be consistent, get them first serves in and be aggressive when the opponent gives you that opportunity,” Prior said.
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