A double sweep might appear dominant on paper, but the Wildcats' wins over Avon Lake on Tuesday afternoon were not a breeze.
The Saint Ignatius varsity and JV tennis teams each earned 5-0 sweeps of the Shoremen, but the journey to victory was not easy.
The trek proved to be particularly adventurous for Kai Vesikallio. Playing in the No. 2 singles spot, the freshman matched up with a smart foe from Avon Lake – Michael Mandel. The battle between the two was epic, lasting long after the other varsity matches concluded.
Vesikallio struggled at first in the opening set. Playing in just his second high school match, the first-year Wildcat experienced difficulty in establishing consistency. Even so, Mandel did not have a cakewalk to victory in the first set, eking out a 7-6 win. In the second set, Vesikallio adjusted and solved the equation. Gaining confidence, Vesikallio zipped to a 6-2 victory, forcing a third set rubber match.
The tiebreaking set was a marathon. Vesikallio and Mandel traded punches and points, each making adjustments along the way. When the dust finally settled, Vesikallio came out on top with a 10-7 triumph, to the delight of his teammates who formed a Kai cheering section.
As Vesikallio dueled in his singles match, Nate Day showcased his devastating combination of strength and agility. The deft sophomore utilized his powerful serve and excellent backhand to defeat Avon Lake's top player, Spencer Gray, 6-0 and 6-1.
Drew Barclay dispatched of his foe quickly with inspiring efficiency. Barclay tallied a quick 6-0, 6-0 victory to roll past his foe. Barclay roamed outside the court after his match, encouraging his teammates.
In the first doubles contest, Jack McNally and Kenny Li paired up against Avon Lake's Kristof Nieschwitz and Dino Pietronica. The duos fought fiercely in the first set. McNally and Li scuffled at times at the service line, but caught fire towards the end of the stanza and became unstoppable. McNally and Li battled to a 6-4 great win in the first set.
The second set shaped up to be a similarly enticing war to watch. McNally and Li gelled perfectly and found a rhythm, overcoming solid play by their foes. McNally and Li wrapped up the victory, 6-3.
A new pair took the court for the Wildcats at the No. 2 doubles spot. Thomas Deucher combined with Arul Mehta to face Avon Lake's second combo. Deucher and Mehta worked well together, playing well off of each other. The junior-sophomore duo rolled past the opponent, sweeping past with a 6-0, 6-0 triumph.
“It was a great team sweep today," said Head Coach Bobbe Bennett. "I'm proud of all the guys, especially Kai for getting his first career victory.”
The JV Cats also managed a 5-0 sweep in similar fashion, with some quick matches and other difficult ones.
In the top singles spot, Shay Tanna wowed onlookers with a 6-3, 6-2 win during a steep battled. Telly Apostolakis also showed off impressive stuff in a 6-2, 6-2 conquest. Liam Walters took care of business in style at the No. 3 singles spot with a 6-0, 6-0 win.
In the top doubles contest, Charlie Cindric and Sohan Shah teamed up. The junior-freshman tandem earned a 7-5 win in the first set before experiencing a 6-4 setback in the second. In the third set tiebreak, the Wildcats and Shoremen left it all on the court. Cindric and Shah walked away with a close win, boxing up a hard-earned 11-9 victory.
Jimmy Brennan and Kyle McNamara worked together in the second doubles matchup. The duo capped the triumphant day with a 6-3, 6-3 win.
The Varsity Cats will return to action on Thursday at Copley, weather-permitting. The JV Cats will get back on the court on Monday at Walsh Jesuit vs. the Warriors.