KYLE BLAKELY returns a shot in singles action against Portsmouth on April 9. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
April 14, 2014PORTSMOUTH — Coach Chris Bailey saw his Kennett boys' tennis team hit the road for the first match of the season, thanks to the snow still covering the team's home courts in North Conway.
The Eagles made the trip to Portsmouth to take on the Clippers on a blustery Wednesday afternoon, April 9.
Bailey admitted that not having access to outdoor courts didn't make things easy on his team.
"We'll just do the best we can the first couple of matches," Bailey said. "We knew Portsmouth was going to be very good again.
"But this was a chance for the kids to get out and hit before we play the teams we can hit with," Bailey continued.
The Clippers swept the singles matches from the Eagles to clinch the match before doubles started.
Danny MacDonald played at number one and dropped an 8-1 decision.
Kyle Blakely played at number two and had the most competitive match of the singles portion, dropping an 8-4 decision.
Luke Tinkham fell 8-0 at number three, Kieffer Bradley lost an 8-1 decision at number four, Fritz Carr fell 8-1 at number five and Tim Avery lost 8-0 in the sixth spot.
Bailey admitted, that without any time to schedule challenge matches, he expects some regular changes in the four through six spots.
"I envision four through six to really be up in the air, especially right now," Bailey said. "We'll find out in a couple of weeks, once we have the chance to do some challenge matches."
In doubles, Blakely and MacDonald played at number one and came away with the lone win of the day for the Eagles, beating Portsmouth's number two team by an 8-5 score.
Bradley and Tinkham played at number two and they dropped an 8-2 decision.
At number three, Bailey had Bo Yalenezian and Gavin Yahna team up and they fell 9-8 (9-7 in the tiebreaker), finishing up the 8-1 final score.
"Bo and Gavin, they both played well," Bailey said. "It was nice to see them in live action."
He noted that the start to the season was a bit like last year, when the Eagles lost to a strong Oyster River squad right out of the gate, which was also the team's first time outside. However, after that, the team went on a run, not losing until late in the season against the Clippers.
Bailey noted that the thing he noticed most about the players was the slow reflexes. He said the foam balls the teams use in the gym for practice are great for getting technique down, but they don't test the reflexes.
"The foam balls are great, but what you don't get is the speed of the ball coming at you," Bailey said. "Their reflexes are slow."
The team's second and third scheduled games of the season, against Oyster River and Kingswood, were both postponed due to court conditions. The Eagles will now play Oyster River on April 29 and the Kingswood match will be made up as part of a doubleheader at Kingswood on May 5.
After two games past deadline Monday and Wednesday, the Eagles are not scheduled to play again until the April 29 match against Oyster River.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org