PLYMOUTH — While they are potential sectional foes, Wednesday’s non-conference meet was largely a way for both teams to sharpen their competitive instincts for their league schedules.
And while the meet score may not have reflected it, Plymouth’s 5-0 win over Triton featured some competitive matches on several positions at the Pilgrims’ home court in Centennial Park.
It was a good test for an undefeated Plymouth team that hasn’t been tested much yet this year.
“I told them I thought this was going to be one of our tougher matches thus far, and I knew I was right after watching them,” said Plymouth Head Boys Tennis Coach Michael Delp. “We jumped on them early, but that second set is probably more indicative of the kind of players they’ve got. They were able to kind of settle in and play a little bit better. We were able to still finish off a lot of those second sets, but it was a battle. They’ve got a nice team.”
“I was looking at Plymouth as a way to raise our talents more in order to win our first conference title,” said Triton Head Coach Allen Peckham. “We’ve never won a conference title yet, and we have our best chance ever this year. I felt like we’d been playing a little flat and this competition here is just so good for us to raise our level. You could see after the first set, I was pretty happy with the way we played today. The score may not have shown it that much, but I thought we really played well.”
As Delp said, the Trojans settled in after some lopsided first-set losses at Plymouth to give the Pilgrims a run for their money Wednesday. Jeff Ross extended Plymouth No. 1 Gabe Vervynckt to 12 games in the second set before falling 6-0, 7-5, while Pete Kauffman took three games in the second set before dropping his No. 2 singles match with Lane Singleton 6-1, 6-3.
But the closest matches of the day came at 3 singles and 2 doubles, where Plymouth’s Luke Bumpus split sets with Triton’s Lucas Shafer on his way to an eventual 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 win, and the Pilgrims tandem of Joe Knapp and Matt Flynn battled back and forth with Trojans Wil Rettinger and Jackson Downing to earn a second-set tiebreaker win and a narrow 7-5, 7-6(6) victory.
“Luke I think he came out really focused and played really well,” said Delp. “Luke’s thing is building that consistency throughout a long match like that, and he’s done it twice now — two out of the last three he’s gone three sets. So we’re working on maintaining that, hopefully not having the lapse we had in the second set, but again, you can’t practice that, you have to fight through the mental battle that goes on.”
“Then at 2 doubles, both sets they had two or three set points against them and won both, and they were down 6-2 in the tiebreak,” he continued. “They’re a quality team; they play a different style than what we’ve seen so we maybe didn’t prepare the way we should have for that match. We will the next time. Our guys gutted it out. Like I told them, ‘I can’t reproduce that in practice. What you guys went through makes you better. It makes you stronger mentally and physically,’ so credit to them.”
“The 2 doubles team is basically a new team this year; they split 3 singles last year, so they’re still learning how to play with each other,” said Peckham. “Tonight they looked really nice. They looked like they were gelling well.
“For Lucas, he’s only a sophomore playing against a senior. He’s been showing the best improvement of any of the players I have from last year to this year. I feel real confident in him, but yet he’s still learning how to play the game. He’s still learning how to be patient at times, how to take the shots when he needs to.”
Triton moves to 3-2 on the season, while Plymouth improves to 6-0. While the Trojans will wait two weeks before resuming their Northern State Conference schedule against Bremen on Sept. 12, the Pilgrims will jump right back into Northern Lakes Conference action tonight at home against Warsaw.
“Fighting through some of that, the challenge tonight I told them was getting home tonight, getting rested and replenished and then mentally preparing for that match tomorrow,” Delp said. “Later on in the year you’re going to have to play two and three matches in a day, and I told them being tired is not OK. It’s not an excuse, this is Plymouth-Warsaw and you need to be ready to go. Conference titles get decided on this match a lot of years.”
• PLYMOUTH 5, TRITON 0
Singles: 1. Gabe Vervynckt beat Jeff Ross 6-0, 7-5; 2. Lane Singleton beat Peter Kauffman 6-1, 6-3; 3. Luke Bumpus beat Lucas Shafer 6-1, 5-7, 6-4
Doubles: 1. Connor Flynn-Jordan Scheetz beat Josh Shafer-Austin Kanarr 6-1, 6-1; 2. Joe Knapp-Matt Flynn beat Wil Rettinger-Jackson Downing 7-5, 7-6(6)
Records: Plymouth 6-0, Triton 3-2
JV score: Plymouth 6, Triton 1