Rockford’s varsity tennis team was filled with a lot of excitement and anticipation for their first match on the new tennis courts. They have been waiting for this day since August 12, the first day of tryouts. The courts were replaced as part of the bond issue approved by voters in May 2008.
The Rams’ opponent Grand Haven came in with the same record as Rockford in the conference, 2-1-1. The Rams knew Grand Haven was going to be an extremely tough competitor.
“To be honest you don’t get a break in the OK Red when it comes to tennis,” commented Coach Tom Huizing. “Every team comes to play with their best stuff. This is why our league is so competitive, because we all beat up on each other. Today was like the rest of the days in the OK Red, a battle to the finish.”
However, the start of the match was a little different. Instead of the normal introduction, Athletic Director Tim Erickson and the rest of the Rockford administration wanted to do something special for the opening of the new tennis facility. It started with Erickson bringing out the loud speakers and getting the team fired up with some pump-up music. Parents were rolling in early, and faculty, staff and administration came and showed their support. Not only did the Rams have great support from the fans and staff, but the mascots made a crowd-pleasing appearance. Not one, but two Ram mascots were seen wandering around the tennis facility, dancing and interacting with the spectators.
Principal Dan Zang cut the ribbon to begin a new tradition and legacy at the Rams’ new tennis facility. Before the matches were called to play, David Duiven and a group of choir students sang the National Anthem, which was sung with beauty, grace and honor by Rockford High School students. The opening ceremonies concluded with Erickson announcing the line-ups.
As for the match, it held up to the hype. Two great teams battled for a top position in the conference. The competition was fierce and the emotions were riding high. The one thing about a tennis match is that there are so many ups and downs that you must stay focused during the whole match. One lapse in focus and you could be sitting on the sidelines saying, “What just happened?”
The Rams were focused and ready to battle to the finish. It was a gritty performance by both teams and, at the end of the day, neither team made any headway in the conference. The final match score was 4-4—a tie.
In number-one singles, sophomore John Hall won 6-0 and 6-1. Number-two singles player, junior Jonathan Panzer, won 6-1 and 6-1. In number-three singles, junior Keith Lannon won 6-2 and 6-1, and in number-four singles, junior Andrew Amante won 6-0 twice.
In number-one doubles, senior Grant Longerberg and freshman Ryan Korlewitz lost 6-3 twice. Number-two doubles players, junior John Smith and sophomore Frank Tejeda, lost 2-6 and 2-6. In number-three doubles, junior Blake Baker and senior Aaron Jaworowski lost 6-0 and 6-3, and in number-four doubles, seniors Michael Dix and Ryan Engman lost 6-3 and 6-2.