Pilgrims top Triton at lightning-shortened Bremen Tennis Sectional semifinal

BREMEN — Bremen High School AD Troy Holmes got started early on the flooded DeSantis Courts Thursday, and by the time the rain-delayed start of the second round of Bremen Tennis Sectional play rolled around at 6 o’clock, conditions looked perfect. Cool but not cold temperatures, virtually no wind.
Unfortunately, the weather wouldn’t last and lightning brought the sectional semifinals to a screeching halt at 7:53 p.m. Fortunately for Plymouth, the Pilgrims had already clinched their head-to-head with Triton.
Plymouth won match points at 1 singles and 1 and 2 doubles, and with no stakes left in either the team or individual state tournaments — Triton wins at either 1 singles or 1 doubles Thursday would have kept the Trojans alive at those positions at least — it was uncertain whether or not the two teams would play out their remaining matches today. What was certain was that the Pilgrims were one step closer to a 17th straight sectional title.
“There’s a little less, I don’t want to say pressure, but you can relax a little bit more,” said Plymouth head coach Michael Delp of his team’s ability to grab three quick wins before the thunderstorms set in Thursday. “There’s a little more peace of mind. It definitely helps to get that win. We’ll have to figure out what the plan is, but we knew it was going to be close so any time you can secure it it’s a really good feeling.”
In the other semifinal Thursday, Bremen’s Bryce DeVine clinched the Lions their first match point at 2 singles with a competitive 6-3, 6-4 win over Glenn’s Hunter Jaworski. The four remaining matches are scheduled to conclude tonight with the championship still slated to follow.
Meanwhile Thursday, Plymouth’s No. 1 doubles tandem of Matt Flynn and Max Holloway defeated Lucas Shafer and Darren Harrell 6-1, 6-3 in a two-setter echoing an earlier straight set win by the Pilgrims at the position back on Sept. 4. At 2 doubles, Ryan Johnson and Braydon Davidson trumped Jake Oldham and Austin Sellers in a 7-3 first set tiebreaker to put away the Trojans, 7-6(3), 6-1 after the Pilgrims 2 doubles team split sets with their Triton counterparts in their first meeting.
“I thought 1 doubles played nice and solid today. We definitely controlled the net and came forward well and just really wanted to be clean as we like to say — a lot of balls in play, things where we didn’t give the other team confidence by misses that we should be hitting and things like that,” said Delp.
“That 2 doubles match, we went three sets the first time, and our guys were up 5-4, had a chance to win the set and then lost both games and went down 6-5. I thought we bounced back well and won that tiebreaker, and that made it kind of tough for them to recover after that.”
But the real surprise came at 1 singles, where John Hunter made short work of Triton’s Dean Howdeshell 6-2, 6-0, avenging an earlier three-set loss at Howdeshell’s hands last month.
“I was even congratulating him for how much calmer he was. I thought during the season he panicked a little bit, he rushed a lot, but tonight he just kept his cool and played well,” said Triton head coach Allen Peckham of Hunter. “My guy, it just felt like he did all the work and (Hunter) was just laying back there in just good control. I just felt like he really improved mentally.”
It was a tough way for Howdeshell to go out at the conclusion of a strong singles season following a busy offseason in which the Trojan senior made big strides in his game.
“Dean has put his time in; he’s a good player,” said Delp. “John just won a lot of those kind of even-up points is what we like to call them — the 30-all, the deuce points — and just played some of those big points well. Then it was really hard for Dean to get back mentally. Being a senior you have that kind of difficulty sometimes, and I feel for him because as a senior that’s it. A kid invests like that in his game and you hate to see him go down, but John played well and you’ve got to give him credit because John has worked on his game as well.”
Regardless of whether the 2 and 3 singles matches are played tonight, Triton bids goodbye not only to Howdeshell but to Shafer, Oldham and Harrell. The Trojans end their year with a strong 11-win tally and a second-place finish in the Northern State Conference.
“I’ve been very proud of the team this year,” Peckham said. “I really felt like we battled. We always made other teams work for their points. One of our goals when we go out every year is to make other teams earn everything they get, and I thought we did that and we got rewarded for it. A great year, I’m pretty proud.”
At DeSantis Courts
SINGLES: 1. John Hunter (P) d. Dean Howdeshell 6-2, 6-0
DOUBLES: 1. Matt Flynn-Max Holloway (P) d. Lucas Shafer-Darren Harrell 6-1, 6-3; 2. Ryan Johnson-Braydon Davidson (P) d. Jake Oldham-Austin Sellers 7-6 (3), 6-1.
SINGLES: 2. Bryce DeVine (B) beat Hunter Jaworski (G) 6-3, 6-4