Some of that good old fashioned Granger tennis composure came in handy.
The LaGrange High boys dug deep. They played hard, and they refused to lose in the first round of the Class AAAA State Tennis Tournament on Monday afternoon at the McCluskey Center.
Pierce Skinner and the Grangers looked every bit like the Region 5 champions as they beat the West Hall Spartans, 5-0. LaGrange High sent West Hall back to Oakwood with a seasonending defeat.
“We’re good from No. 1 singles to No. 2 doubles, and we have depth,” said Skinner, the Grangers sophomore.
He did his part against the pesky Spartans. Skinner prevailed, 6-1, 6-1 against West Hall senior Steven Schneider. Skinner was the first player off the court with a win at No. 2 singles.
“I hit my serves well and volleys well,” said Skinner.
Granger senior Tony Choi labored a little bit more than Skinner, but the end result was still a LaGrange High win at No. 3 singles. Choi’s backhand, forehand and big time points at the net were too much for West Hall junior Jorge Villa.
Choi won his match, 6-1, 6-3. But it wasn’t without a fight. The Spartans didn’t give in. West Hall came to play. The LaGrange High boys just played better and with a lot more skill.
“We had a lot of fun. We worked hard. We kept the ball in play, and we knew we had more experience (than West Hall),” said Grangers head coach Kenny Moore.
But there was one pretty even matchup at No. 1 singles. Granger senior Blade Kendall met West Hall senior Joey Griffing. They played the longest singles match of the day.
Kendall was sluggish in the first set, but he finally found his game and his grit. Kendall rallied for a 7-5, 64 win over Griffing.
“He had a heavy serve, and he didn’t miss his volleys. I just calmed down, and I hit some winners,” said Kendall, who gave Griffing a full dose of his powerful backhand.
The matches in the boys doubles were a little more one-sided. LaGrange High didn’t lose a game in two doubles matches. Leading off at No. 1 doubles was the Granger team of Gavin Battle and Jackson Kuerzi.
They put a Class AAAA hurting on the Spartan tandem of Enoch Lee and Pratham Aderjania, a senior and freshman. They lost, 06, 0-6 to Kuerzi and Battle.
“They weren’t putting any pace on the ball,” said the 6-foot-6 Battle. “We covered a lot of ground. We had some well placed shots and some big serves.” Yes, Battle and Kuerzi tried to intimidate the Spartans.
“We didn’t want to spend any time on the baseline, and we wanted to make sure they were scared,” said Battle.
The Grangers made it relatively short and quick at No. 2 doubles as well. The LaGrange High senior doubles team of Tiger Lakhwani and Will Hunnicutt got their serves in and their afternoon workout.
Hunnicutt and Lakhwani won with some fervor and Gatorade, as well as a 6-0, 6-0 verdict over the West Hall twosome of Austin Backus and Joseph Reed.
“We had never played LaGrange before, but we felt optimistic. We just fell short on experience,” said Spartans head coach Miro Gomez.
LaGrange High gave West Hall some tennis lessons from A to Z. The LHS boys are now 18-3 on the season.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer