After a couple of tough dual match losses to Hudsonville and West Ottawa, the boy’s tennis team re-grouped and won three matches in a row. The Rams started the win streak with a tough non-conference match up with the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles. Against the Eagles, the Ram’s singles players lead the way winning 3 of the 4 matches while the doubles teams split the four matches for a spirited 5 to 3 win. The Grand Haven Buccaneers then came to Rockford with three of the top singles players in the conference looking for a win to stay close to the league leaders. The Rams not wanting to lose any more ground in the conference were ready for the challenge sweeping the doubles flights and winning at fourth singles to take the match 5 to 3. The Rams then made a short trip to Northview High School and defeated the Wildcats 8 to 0. With momentum behind them the Rams were ready to begin tournament play.
The OK Red Conference Tournament on Saturday had to wait for the rain to clear and the courts to dry. Coach Tom Huizing challenged the boys to win matches that did not go their way during the regular season. The boys were up to the challenge winning 7 of their 8 first round matches. At first singles, sophomore TJ Maskell was one of the Rams eager for a re-match having lost a close three set match to Grandville early in the year. On Saturday the re-match followed a similar script with the boys splitting the first two sets. Grandville’s senior then built a substantial 5 – 2 lead in the third set before TJ started to take over with his driving forehand groundstrokes coming back to win in a tie-breaker. In a semi-final match, sophomore Will Van Eck also had a re-match with a player form West Ottawa who won the regular season match against him. Saturday Will was not to be denied. With consistent and aggressive play he scored a straight set win to advance to the conference final at fourth singles.
At fourth doubles, junior Nate Boer and senior Jackson Danner advanced to the semi-finals to find a team from Hudsonville who had beat them in the regular season across the net. In a back and forth match that went to a third set the boys applied the pressure by maintaining a slight lead until closing out the match and advancing to the finals. The Ram’s first doubles team of juniors Matthew Hall and Ryan Blackburn seeded second in their flight with only one conference loss during the regular season were not interested in any re-matches having a different outcome. After a first round challenge from East Kentwood, the boys had a strong performance in the semi-final with a straight set win over Grandville to advance to the final.
Senior Ben Howard played some of his best tennis of the year, but was not able to overcome the top seed from West Ottawa in his semi-final match. TJ Maskell continued his strong play on the day but was not able to overcome the top seed from Grand Haven in his semi-final match. The second doubles team of seniors Joseph and Nick Besta and the third doubles team of junior Will Lewis and sophomore Caleb Werdon advanced to semi-finals as well before being defeated. With three flights in the finals and four flights in the third place match, the Rams are right in the thick of the fight for the conference title. Due to the rain delay Saturday morning those matches will be played at 4:00pm on Monday at Grandville High School. The outcomes of those matches will not only determine the conference title, but they will also impact the seeding for the Regional Tournament that will be held on Thursday at Holland High School. Good Luck Rams!!!