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The 2002 Boys Tennis season actually began before the first official practice. In January, new coach Jason Crutchfield began pre-season conditioning for the team. Running and weight lifting became routine for all boys except those already involved with basketball (Scott Schmeissing, Brandon Shreckhise, Chad Wilkins, and Brian Ball). Working on strength and stamina were Jim Hill, Kevin Fanfoni, Mark Schmeissing, James Murphy, James Wade, Ben Landes, Brian Thompson, and Bobby Perkins.
Practice began on Monday, February 25. As usual, the first several weeks were filled with drills and chills as the weather was far from summer-like. The boys alternated with the girls team practicing at Stewart Middle and Blue Ridge Community College. Several of the boys also participated in the high school clinic held at the Augusta Medical Center tennis courts sponsored by the Staunton Waynesboro Augusta Tennis Association on February 9 and 16. Helping to keep the boys warm were new warm up suits purchased by the team. To cover the costs for the warm up suits, a fund raiser was held involving Sheetz coupons.
Meet the team night was held on March 4. Coach Crutchfield met the players’ parents for the first time and explained his teaching and coaching background. Parents made arrangements for providing snacks for the matches and the team schedule was discussed.
Team pictures were taken in early March. It always seems to be below freezing when spring sport pictures are taken, and this photo op was no exception.
The second week of March focused on challenge matches and the ladder was initially set. The starting lineup originally was set as Jim at #1, Scott at #2 (both for the fourth year in a row), Brandon at #3, Chad at #4, Kevin at #5, and Mark at #6. Despite a long lasting drought in Augusta County, the rainfall for March 2002 was actually over an inch higher than normal and this meant many days with no practice. A few unnamed players were known to visit the indoor courts at Bridgewater during this period.
The team anxiously awaited its first scheduled match on March 18 with Robert E. Lee High School, but rain prevailed. The team knew that Lee High would be the Valley District team with the best chance of wrestling the District Championship away from FDHS, which had claimed both the regular season and tournament championship in 2001. That match was rescheduled for April 9.
Likewise, a scrimmage with Eastern Mennonite High School on March 19 was rained out. It was rescheduled for March 26 but again rain intervened.
Finally, the team was able to get its first match in against the Jefferson District pre-season favorite, Western Albemarle.
FDHS vs Western Albemarle, Thursday, March 21, at Stewart Middle School
Western Albemarle brought an experienced team to face the Indians on a cold, windy afternoon. There were several close matches, including a rematch of last year’s Valley District Individual Champion, Jim Hill, and the reigning Jefferson District Individual Champion, Dom Manilla. This was the third consecutive year that they have played each other at #1 and Jim held a 2-1 record over Dom going into the match. After Dom took an early lead, Jim broke back and evened things up. The match remained see-saw up to 8 games each with each player hitting some dazzling shots. Jim held serve to go up 9-8, then broke Dom’s serve to take the 10-8 victory. At #2, Scott Schmeissing took a few games to warm up then blitzed his opponent, Bo Hurley, 10-3. At #3, Brandon Shreckhise played very steady and stayed right with a tough Robbie Turner before falling 10-8. Chad Wilkins, at #4, came out smoking and dealt Ross Moorefield a 10-4 defeat. Western had a very balanced team, and it shows up at #5 and #6. Dom Manilla’s brother, Dan, had won the S.W.A.T. 14 and under title in the Rally in the Valley Tournament last June. Yet he still played #5 on his high school team. He defeated Kevin Fanfoni 10-3 while Jake Sadler was giving Mark Schmeissing an unpleasant first high school match at #6. So after the singles, it was all even, 3 to 3.
By the time doubles started, darkness was starting to roll in. Jim and Scott showed why they are two-time defending Valley District Doubles Champions, easily defeating Dom Manilla and Hurley 8-3. But that’s where the luck ran out for FDHS. Turner and Moorefield beat Brandon and Chad 8-3 and Dan Manilla and Sadler led Kevin and James Murphy 6-5 when the match had to be called due to darkness. So it goes down in the book as a 5-4 loss for FDHS, but actually the last match was not played to completion.
FDHS vs. St. Anne’s-Belfield, Friday, March 22, at STAB (scrimmage)
An old tennis adage is that playing good players makes you play better. FDHS had scheduled a scrimmage with the Charlottesville private school, St. Anne’s-Belfield, knowing that this school had a reputation for good tennis players. STAB lived up to its reputation. FDHS was able to squeak out only two wins, but both of them were noteworthy. At #1, Jim beat a tall, powerful Tommy Verbuchen 10-8. Jim out-steadied the hard hitter and won several games which went to deuce. At #2, Scott found a player much like himself: fast and steady. Things looked dismal as he fell behind 7-3 to Brandon Flurry. But as usual, Scott dug deeper and scrapped back to take a 10-8 win. Rallies in this match lasted forever with each player running down what seemed like were winners from his opponent. The rest of the day was as cold as the weather for FDHS. Brandon dropped a 10-1 match to Elliot Hunter though the points were much closer than the final score. Chad lost to Macon Gunter, 10-3, Kevin lost to Jamie Polockvich 10-2, and Mark lost to Paul Sweeney 10-3. And doubles was no better, with Jim and Scott losing 10-4 to Verbuchen and Flurry, Brandon and Chad losing 10-2 to Hunter and Gunter, and Kevin and Mark lost to Polockvich and Sweeney 10-3.
FDHS vs. Wilson Memorial, Monday, March 25, at Stewart Middle School (scrimmage)
The Indians flexed their tennis muscles against an out-manned Wilson Memorial team. Jim started things off with a quick 10-0 shelling of P Snyder. Few games even went to deuce. Scott wasn’t far behind with his 10-1 victory over Seth Lovell. Brandon coasted to a 10-4 win over D. Garber. Chad hammered D. Bull 10-0 while Kevin fought back from a 6-3 deficit to take a 10-8 win over Eli Lovell. Mark had little trouble ousting D. Houser, 10-3. In doubles, Jim and Brandon waltzed over S. Lovell and Garber, 10-2, while Scott and Chad had no trouble with Newman and Bull, 10-3. Kevin and Mark lost to E. Lovell and Houser, making the final score 8-1 for FD.
FDHS vs Stuarts Draft, Wednesday, March 27, at SDHS
In the first of two matches against Stuarts Draft, FD showed SDHS that they should hope for rain the next time they are scheduled, winning 9-0. Jim was the first one off the court taking a surprisingly easy 10-0 win over Grant Hutchens, a Valley District semifinalist last year. Scott blew by Tim Williams 10-1 and Brandon outstroked Kevin Moore, 10-1. Chad had a tight match with Jonathan Rexrode. After falling behind 8-6, he pulled out a 10-8 win. Kevin had little trouble with Adam Shank, 10-3. But the match of the day belonged to Mark, who fell behind 7-3 to Jacob LaRue. All that pre-season conditioning came in handy as he caught his second wind and forced a tie breaker at 10 games all. In the tie breaker, Mark was all over the court while his opponent wearied. The tie breaker score was 7-1 in Mark’s favor. The doubles were all FDHS. Jim and Brandon beat Hutchens and Moore 10-7, breaking open a 7-games all tie. Scott and Chad blasted Williams and Rexrode 10-1 while Kevin and James M. defeated Shank and T. Willis 10-3.
FDHS vs Turner Ashby, Monday, April 8, at Stewart Middle School
The Fort boys dominated Turner Ashby on a windy April afternoon, 8-1. Jim beat Brandon Sedwick 10-2, Scott overwhelmed C.J. Chenoweth 10-1, Brandon beat Stephen Garletts 10-2, Chad blitzed Jordan Rodes 10-0, Kevin outstroked Matt Martin 10-4, and Mark came from behind again to beat Kent Hutchinson 10-6. So intimidated were the TA boys that one of them turned to the fence and exclaimed “I gotta game — my life’s complete!.” after winning one of the few games they mustered. In doubles, Jim and Brandon blanked Chenoweth and Garletts 10-0 while Scott and Chad beat Rodes and Martin 10-3. In the only slip up of the day, Sedwick and Hutchinson beat Kevin and Mark in a tight 10-8 match.
FDHS vs Harrisonburg, Thursday, April 11, at Harrisonburg
The Indians swept a 6-3 Valley District win from Harrisonburg by winning the first four singles and first two doubles. Jim blasted Ellis Logan 10-2, Scott bageled Ryan Gifford 10-0, Brandon outstroked Kyle Grandstaff 10-4, and Chad beat John Rose 10-3. Brandon, in particular, played well and won most rallies that lasted more than a few hits. Kevin blew a lead and fell to Will Hawk 10-7 while Mark was running into a tough Adam Jackson. He lost 10-2. In doubles, Jim and Scott had a lot of fun pummeling Logan and Grandstaff 10-2 while Brandon and Chad were swamping Giford and Rose 10-2. The No. 3 doubles team played evenly for a while, then struggled and lost to Hawk and John Luu 10-6. All in all, it was a good win for the Indians. Beating Harrisonburg always brings a smile to the FDHS faithful.
FDHS vs Lee High, Monday, April 15, at Stewart Middle School
In a crucial Valley District match, the Indians blew away archrival Robert E. Lee High School 6-3 on a beautiful spring afternoon. Lee High had come into Indian territory anxious to overtake the Indians for first place in the Valley District. But the lowdown on this showdown was that the FDHS boys were in better shape and outplayed the surprised Leemen. As expected, Jim and Scott opened scoring up with quick wins. Jim blanked Tyler Spencer 10-0 while Scott was crushing Tyler Walk 10-1 for his 37th consecutive high school tennis victory. Everyone knew Lee had a very well balanced attack and it showed at the bottom two singles spots as Kevin lost 10-2 to Chris Northrup while Mark was dropping a 10-2 match to Jonathan Crawford. But the MVP’s of the day were Brandon and Chad who played their best tennis of the season. Brandon dropped behind 4-0 to Blaine Morriss before rallying for a 10-8 victory. Meanwhile Chad was all over Adam Houff, who had played #1 for Lee High in 2000. Chad won 10-3. That put the Indians up 4-2 after the singles and allowed Jim and Scott to play together at #1 doubles. They started slow but roared back for a 10-4 win over Spencer and Houff which sealed the win for the Indians. Crawford and Greg Phillips took a 10-4 win over Kevin and James Murphy to make the score 5-3. While these matches were finishing, Brandon and Chad found themselves down 7-5 to Walk and Morriss. But again Brandon and Chad rallied and pulled out a 10-8 win with both boys making some exceptionally good volleys.
FDHS vs Spotswood, Thursday, April 18, at Spotswood High School
The Indians grabbed a tight grip on first place in the Valley District with a 7-2 romp over Spotswood. Jim, Scott, and Chad each ran their season singles records to 6-0 while Brandon won his fifth consecutive match. And all three doubles teams pounded out victories over a good but outmanned Spotswood team. Jim beat Timothy Norville 10-1, Scott blasted Ryan Weber 10-3, Brandon smoked Jonathan Sheppard 10-4, and Chad crushed Bryan Harper 10-1. Spotswood’s #5 player, Chris Sutherland, was perhaps the most athletic player on the team. He squeaked by Kevin 10-7 while James P. was losing his first varsity match at #6, a tight 10-8 match, to Jaimin Engel. James P. had wrestled the #6 position on the team from Mark as a result of challenges during the week at practice. In doubles, Jim and Scott dominated Norville and Sutherland, 10-2. The only trouble Brandon and Chad had with Weber and Harper was avoiding being pegged by the Spotswood team which seemed more interested in hitting at them than hitting the ball in the court. Kevin and James M. played very aggressively in stopping Sheppard and Brett Caricofe 10-4. It was another good Valley District win for the Indians. The seniors remembered how Spotswood had beaten Fort three times during their freshman year–since then FDHS has lost only one Valley District match (a 2000 loss to Central). The Indians now have a twenty match winning streak in the Valley District.
FDHS vs Turner Ashby, Monday, April 22, at Turner Ashby
FDHS breezed to an easy 8-1 victory over host Turner Ashby. The wind, always a problem at the TAHS courts, provided as much competition as some of the opponents as the Indians swept all six singles and the first two doubles. Jim and Scott each remained unbeaten this season with identical 10-0 whitewashes over their singles opponents, Brandon Sedwick and Stephen Garletts. Brandon and Chad were likewise quick to come off the courts. Brandon blitzed C.J. Chenoweth 10-3 while Chad remained undefeated with a 10-4 win over Jordan Rodes. Kevin kept it interesting with Matt Martin before shutting the door 11-9. And James P. got his first singles win of the season with a tight 10-7 win over Kent Hutchinson. In doubles, Jim and Scott cruised to a 10-1 victory over Garletts and Chenoweth while Brandon and Chad pummeled Rodes and Martin 10-2. Both #1 and #2 doubles teams gave a lesson to their opponents on how to control the match by controlling the net. In order to win one match, TA played their #1 player at #3 doubles. Sedwick and Hutchinson were able to pull out a 10-2 win over Kevin and Mark. TAHS had plenty of extra players so everyone got a chance to play. James P. and Ben played together in an exhibition doubles and were ahead 7-3 when play was stopped. Bobby, sporting a clean shaven head, played a close singles match while Brian T and Brian B. were winning their doubles when play was stopped.
FDHS vs Stuarts Draft, Thursday, April 25, at Stewart Middle School
The Indians blitzed the Cougars 9-0, running their Valley District record to 7-0 and overall record to 7-1. None of the matches were very close as FDHS dominated play in both singles and doubles. Jim zapped Grant Hutchens 10-0 for the second time this season, making almost zero unforced errors. That made his season record 8-0 and his four year overall record at #1 singles 56-9. Scott didn’t have to play his best in order to crush Tim Williams 10-3. Three games is the most Scott has given up this year. His four year overall singles record at #2 is now 51-3 including 40 consecutive victories over the last three years. Brandon won his 7th straight match, blowing away Kevin Moore 10-1. Undefeated Chad (8-0) had a close match with Jonathan Rexrode the first time FDHS played SDHS this season, but this time he jumped out to a 6-1 lead and coasted to a 10-5 victory. Kevin won his second consecutive singles match, a 10-2 blowout over Adam Shenk. And James P. also won his second consecutive match, crushing Jacob Lareu 10-2. Both Kevin and James showed increased confidence in their strokes in outclassing their SDHS rivals. In doubles, again it was all Indians. Jim and Scott blanked Hutchens and Moore 8-0; Chad and Brandon played especially well in stomping Williams and Rexrode 8-2. And at #3 doubles, James M. and Mark stepped in and beat Jared Thomas and Tim Willis 8-1. Mark survived getting pegged on a first serve to get his first doubles win of the season. The team left the match hoping to be as successful off the court as they have been on as they endeavor to sell Sheetz coupons at Food Lion on Saturday.
FDHS vs Broadway Monday, April 29, at Broadway High School
On another cold and windy Spring afternoon, the Indians proved their superiority in the singles and coasted to a 7-2 win over Broadway in a Valley District match. Chad and James P. both had good wins in fairly tight matches while the other four singles matches were blow aways. Jim won his third consecutive 10-0 match. This time the victim was BHS’s Tyler Carnahan. Scott had little trouble with Nathan Wyant, 10-3, while Brandon played very well in stomping Hans Burkholder 10-3. Chad beat a good John Skelly 10-5. Kevin played very well and was off the court almost as quickly as Jim as he crushed Brian Shaffer 10-1. James P. had to come from behind to beat Lee Kipps 10-6. Both Kevin and James P. have now won three in a row. The 6-0 singles sweep made the doubles just for fun. Jim and Scott blew past Carnahan and Wyant 8-1 but, quite honestly, Brandon and Chad’s play in doubles was rotten. Both caught a bad case of doublefaultitis in important games and dropped a 8-5 decision to Burkholder and Skelly. Meanwhile, Ben and Brian T. got to play in their first varsity match at #3 doubles but were overwhelmed by Shaffer and Kipps 8-1. All of the Indians got to play since BHS had plenty of extra players. Mark and Bobby played exhibition singles while James M. and Brian B. played an extra doubles. Some of the toughest competition of the day was to see which player could be the first one to the bountiful food Brian T.’s mother had provided.
FDHS vs Rockbridge Monday, May 6, at Stewart Middle School
The Indians preserved their perfect 9-0 Valley District record with a 8-1 stomping of Rockbridge County High. This match was designated as Senior Day which included remarks by Athletic Director Frank Wade, presentation by Principal Chip Hill of senior players and their parents, and the playing of the National Anthem by Tim Hall. Click here for pictures from Senior Day. Jim Hill was presented by his parents, Joe and Lynn Hill. Scott Schmeissing was presented by Susie Schmeissing (father Bill was out of town), and Brandon Shreckhise was presented by Jim and Becky Shreckhise. The presentations took almost as long as it had taken the FDHS boys to win all six singles matches. In fact, the singles matches were started early (which displeased some of the fans) and the senior ceremony was held between the singles and doubles. Jim, Scott, and Chad all now have10-0 singles records. Brandon won his ninth consecutive match and Kevin won his fourth straight singles. Jim’s whitewashing of John Hennis was the sixth time this season he has beaten his opponent 10-0. Scott blitzed Jesse Daystar 10-1, Brandon creamed Rob Faulkner 10-2, Chad outsmarted Ryan Smart 10-2, Kevin pummeled Scott Paterson 10-2, and Mark dumped Jake Bennett 10-2. Mark had reclaimed the #6 position from James P. with challenges during the past week. In doubles, Jim and Scott kept their perfect season intact with a 10-3 win over Hennis and Daystar. Brandon and Chad pounded Faulkner and Than Moung 10-1, but Jordan Lofgren and Josh Powell beat Brian B. and Bobby at #3, 10-2. After the match, Coach Crutchfield emphasized at the team meeting that the boys would have to work especially hard for the next few weeks as the regular season winds up and the all-important district tournament gets underway.
FDHS vs Waynesboro Wednesday, May 8, at Stewart Middle School
Fort claimed its second consecutive Valley District regular season championship by blanking the Waynesboro Little Generals 8-0 in the last match of the regular season. By winning the regular season crown, FDHS now has a guaranteed berth in the regional tournament. The match was delayed in getting started as a downpour had soaked the courts mid-afternoon. After the courts were squeeged dry, the Indians then soaked the Waynesboro team and upped their record to 10-1, 10-0 in the Valley District. Again Jim didn’t give up a game in beating Mike Kane 8-0. Scott had a tougher than usual match against Hunter Dawkins but still prevailed 8-4. Brandon came to the net often in spiking Lawton Tufts 8-4. Chad nearly lost his perfect record but got it together to defeat Chris Klann 9-7. Kevin won his fifth consecutive match, a 8-3 verdict over Paige Holder. And Mark pulled away from Tyler Carter 8-5. In doubles, Jim and Scott dominated Kane and Dawkins, 8-1. Brandon and Chad zipped Tufts and Klann 8-0. But the third doubles was caught in another downpour so Kevin and James M. were not able to complete their match against Holder and Matt Wade. The Indians regular season singles records ended up impressively as follows: Jim 11-0, Scott 11-0, Brandon 10-1, Chad 11-0, Kevin 7-4, Mark 4-3, and James P. 3-1. Top seeded FDHS will now wait to see who will be its semifinal opponent in the Valley District Tournament which begins next week. Likewise, Jim starts individual tournament play next week as the #1 seed and he and Scott will be vying for their third consecutive Valley District Doubles crown.
VALLEY DISTRICT TEAM TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS: FDHS vs Harrisonburg Tuesday, May 14 at Turner Ashby High School
The seniors provided the leadership as top seeded Fort narrowly defeated fourth seeded Harrisonburg 5-4 in the semifinals of the Valley District Tournament. The match was held at Turner Ashby since the FDHS Girls were hosting their half of the semifinals at Stewart Middle School. The weather was horrid for tennis: cold with strong winds and occasional rain. After the singles were split 3-3, the match was moved indoors to the Doug Will Tennis Center in Bridgewater. Seniors Jim, Scott, and Brandon all rolled to easy singles victories. Jim beat Ellis Logan 6-1, 6-2 in a match that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate. Scott blew past Ryan Gifford 6-0, 6-1 while Brandon steamrolled Kyle Grandstaff 6-1, 6-1. All three senior boys clearly outclassed their competition. Unfortunately, the underclassmen didn’t follow suit. Chad lost his first match of the season, a 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 match to Will Hawk. Kevin lost a close 7-6, 7-5 match to John Rose. And Mark was taken out by Adam Jackson 7-5, 6-2. Chad, Kevin, and Mark all were guilty of erratic play in crucial situations–something all hope to improve on in the finals against Robert E. Lee High. So for the first time this season, a Valley District team had split the singles with the Indians. But in doubles, the FDHS boys gave a simple lesson to the Blue Streaks: those who seize and control the net dominate the match. Jim and Scott ignored the rude behavior of the Harrisonburg fans as they whitewashed Logan and Grandstaff 6-0, 6-0. And in the key match of the day, Brandon played superbly at the net as he and Chad beat Hawk and Rose 6-2, 6-2. Harrisonburg’s Gifford and Jackson won the third doubles 8-4 over Kevin and James M. That match was shorted to an eight game set because the Indians had an insurmountable lead at that point, 5-3. Perhaps the lesson for the underclassmen to learn from Jim, Scott, and Brandon is that steady play wins over unpredictable flashy play most days. The seniors showed maturity in knowing when to crush their strokes and when to play it smart. Jim notched his 60th career singles win at #1 and Scott extended his unbeaten streak to 44 matches. Both are 12-0 in singles this season and in doubles. Brandon ran his season streak to 11 consecutive singles wins with his second win of the season over Grandstaff, a player who had beaten him last season.
VALLEY DISTRICT TEAM TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIPS: FDHS vs Lee High Wednesday May 15 at Stewart Middle School
As everyone expected, this was THE match of the season for the Indians. The Leemen were anxious to get revenge for their only loss of the season earlier against Fort. And the Indians wanted to nail down their third consecutive Valley District tournament championship. The weather couldn’t have been better, especially after the terrible conditions the semifinals had been played in. The match went just as most observers expected: FDHS won the top two singles easily and Lee won the 5th and 6th matches. Jim blew past Tyler Spencer 6-0, 6-1 while Scott creamed Tyler Walk 6-2, 6-2. Their matches would have convinced any doubters that the two best players in the Valley District both wear the same shirts–a Fort shirt. Meanwhile, Kevin lost to a very tough Chris Northrup 6-2, 6-2 and Mark dropped a 6-1, 6-1 decision to a strong Jonathan Crawford. Both Kevin and Mark played some great points but weren’t able to cash in on games. The crucial matches were the #3 and #4 singles and they lived up to their billing. Brandon fought off set points to win his first set against Adam Houff 7-5. But Adam came back and won the second set 6-4. In the third set, Brandon was bothered by cramps yet he fought bravely before falling 6-4. Chad won the first set 6-3 against Blaine Morriss then fell behind in the second. He also denied his opponent on several set points and scrambled to force a tie breaker, then came on strong to win it (7-4) and take the match. That made the score 3-3 after the singles. Jim and Scott found themselves in a surprising dogfight with Houff and Spencer, falling behind 5-3 in the first set as Scott struggled with his serve and both made unforced errors. But just when things looked bleak, they broke Spencer, then Jim held serve to square up the match. From there on out it was all Scott and Jim. They won the first set 7-5 and breezed through the second 6-1. Unfortunately, Crawford and Greg Phillips were defeating Kevin and James M. for the second time this season at #3 doubles, 6-1, 6-2. That left the Valley District Tournament Championship hanging on the shoulders of the #2 doubles match: Brandon and Chad versus Morriss and Walk. Things looked dark for the Indians as Lee won the first set 6-3. But Brandon and Chad evened things up by winning the second set 6-3. And they started the deciding third set in a bang, going up 4-0 after winning a marathon serving game by Chad. Morriss and Walk battled back to 4-3 and the tension mounted. But timely poaching by Brandon and good serving and passing shots by Chad led the Indians to a 6-3 victory and the tournament championship for FDHS, 5-4. Both teams will advance to regional play beginning on May 21 with Fort hosting an unnamed team while Lee will be traveling to try to keep its season alive. After the exhausting match, Fort Athletic Director Frank Wade presented both the regular season trophy and the tournament championship trophy to the Indians. To cap off the celebration, the boys headed to Pizza Hut. Before they left, however, Coach Crutchfield unexpectedly got the celebratory ice chest poured over him. Well deserved it was, as it was the conditioning that he forced on the boys that saved the day in this long and gruelling match.
VALLEY DISTRICT INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: May 17 and 18 and Broadway High School
Semifinals: There were no surprises in the singles or doubles. In the singles, top-seeded Jim blew past John Hennis of Rockbridge 6-0, 6-0. He made very few unforced errors in a match that took just a little over 30 minutes to complete. He served well and moved the ball around the court a lot.. The win gives him a 14-0 record for this season. His opponent in the finals will be Tyler Spencer of Lee High who pounded Ellis Logan of Harrisonburg 6-0, 6-1. In the doubles, Jim and Scott overwhelmed Michael Kane and Hunter Dawkins of Waynesboro 6-0, 6-1. They controlled the match from the get-go. The only problem they had was that Jim was accidentally pegged by a stray serve which took his breath away and limited his movement for the remainder of the set. The win guarantees the 14-0 duo a spot in the regional individual tournament. In the doubles championships, Scott and Jim will face Houff and Spencer from Lee High who squeaked by Sutherland and Norville in three sets.
Finals: Jim came out smoking against Tyler Spencer, taking the first nine game without allowing Spencer to get more than two points in any one game. He played exceptionally steady and served well. Spencer finally won a game to get to 3-1 in the second set, but that’s all Jim would allow as he breezed to his second consecutive Valley District Singles Championship, 6-0, 6-1. In doubles, Scott and Jim likewise started off on fire and won the first set 6-0. Scott hit some thunderous forehand returns of serve while Jim served several aces past Spencer and Adam Houff. But Houff and Spencer weren’t ready to quit. They broke Jim behind two good lobs from Houff and held serve to take a 2-0 lead in the second set. Scott and Jim broke back to even the match at 2-2 and then they stayed on serve until it was 4-4. The FDHS team then took control of the net and rifled a couple of overheads past the Lee High duo to take a 5-4 lead. Jim then closed out the win with an ace and three unreturnable serves as he and Scott won their third consecutive Valley District Doubles Championship. All four boys now advance to the Regional Individual Tournament to be held May 27 and 28 at Handley.
Fort learned that they will host Loudoun County on Tuesday, May 21 in the quarterfinals of the Regional Tournament. If they win, they’ll face the winner of the Handley-Orange County match on Thursday, May 23, again at FDHS. The other half of the draw has Potomac Falls hosting Warren County and Western Albemarle hosting Robert E. Lee.
REGIONAL TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINALS: FDHS vs Loudoun County, Tuesday May 21, at Stewart Middle School.
Fort opened up regional play on a very chilly Tuesday, May 21, afternoon by topping Loudoun Valley in a convincing 6-3 victory. Loudoun Valley was the runner-up in the Dulles District. The Indians won four of six singles matches led by Kevin’s best play of the season. He beat Jessie Saunders 6-4, 6-1, playing steady and making few unforced errors. Jim opened things up with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewashing of Justin Hanger at #1. Jim jumped on him right after the racket spin and Hanger never managed a deuce game. Scott had more competition than usual at #2 but still stormed past Daniel Saunders, 6-2, 6-2. Brandon played one of his worst matches of the season, dropping a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 verdict to Victor Hsiao. Everyone is allowed one bad day and Brandon got his out of his system. Chad played a strong #4, Nathan Downs, but played one of his best matches of the season in taking a 6-2, 6-3 win. Mark dropped a 6-1, 6-0 match to a very strong #6, Kyle Hanifer. The deciding 5th point of the match was won by Jim and Scott at #1 doubles as they blew past Hanger and D. Saunders, 6-3, 6-0. Brandon got his game together for doubles, and Chad played some great points at the net as they stopped Hsaio and Downs 6-3, 6-3. Several times Chad’s quick hands at the net produced winners for the Indians. At the final doubles, Kevin and James played well in the second set but dropped the match 6-1, 6-4. Next up for the Indians will be a tough task, but not an impossible one–the defending state champion Handley Judges on Thursday at FDHS.
REGIONAL TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS: FDHS vs Handley, Thursday, May 23 at Stewart Middle School
FDHS saw its season come to an end at the hand of the defending state champions, the Handley Judges, in the semifinals of the Region II Tournament, 5-1. Fort played hard but was overwhelmed by a deep and experienced team. Jim saw his streak of 16 consecutive singles matches come to an end as defending individual state champion Matt Stillwagon defeated him 6-2, 6-1. The match was much closer than the score might indicate, with many games going to deuce. Stillwagon used a powerful serve and forehand to score the win. Brandon dropped a 6-2, 6-1 match to Brad Stillwagon who has many of the same strokes as his older brother. Chad played a tentative first set, losing a 6-1 decision to Sloan Kuykendall. But he came back and played a very competitive second set, stretching Kuykendall to a 6-3 win. At #5, Kevin demonstrated that he has finally learned how to play championship tennis. After struggling earlier in the season to find the best way to win, Kevin played a superb match. He won the first set 6-0 in which few games even went to deuce. He played evenly in the second set before losing a 6-3 decision. In the deciding third set, he dropped a 6-1 decision though the games were very close. The last two matches of the season for Kevin were benchmark matches; he clearly has now figured out how to play this game. Mark lost to another strong #6 player, Andrew Oliver, 6-1, 6-1. The match of the day, though, was Scott’s. He entered the match with a 46 game winning streak; his last loss was in the next-to-last match of his freshman year. He played against Ethan Hicks, who, like Scott, possessed cat-like quickness, a big serve, and a fine forehand. Scott and Hicks held on serve throughout the first set but Scott got a late break to win it 7-5. The second set was all Hicks, 6-1. The third set held on serve to 4-4. In the crucial 9th game, Scott fell behind 5-40, victim of a couple of double faults. But he played the next few points perfectly to hold serve. Hicks came back with a strong serving game to square it at 5-5. In a long 11th game with several deuces, Scott eventually outdueled Hicks in hand-to-hand combat with both players volleying at the net to take a 6-5 lead. Hicks served to send the match to a tie breaker, but Scott returned serve well and a Hicks forehand error gave him a match point. Hicks then double faulted to give Scott his third consecutive undefeated season. After the loss, the Indians still managed to celebrate a very successful season including a cake supplied by Chad’s mother. The season was certainly a successful one for FDHS, who ended with a 13-2 record, Valley District Regular Season Champions, and Valley District Tournament Champions.
REGIONAL INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT. Monday, May 27 at Handley High School
Memorial Day was one which created lots of good memories for Jim
and Scott in the Region II Individual Tournament. Jim began the day
by taking on Northwest District runner-up Roy Mace from Liberty High
School in the singles quartefinals. Mace hit both forehand and
backhand with two hands and was undoubtedly the steadiest player Jim
has faced this season. He got everything back, lured Jim to the net
often, then hit great lobs. Each point involved long rallies and wide
angles from both players. Jim jumped out to a 2-0 lead by coming to
the net and putting the ball away. But Mace kept coming back, evened
the score at 2-2, and played evenly until 4-3 in the first set. Jim
was able to pull out a 6-3 first set win in which he had to earn each
and every point. The second set was much like the first until Mace
wilted at the end, with Jim taking it 6-1. But the match was much
closer than the score indicated because nearly every game went to
deuce and Jim got no easy points the entire match.
Next up was the doubles quarterfinals with Jim and Scott taking on the Dulles District runners-up, Moran and Duffy from Stonebridge High School in Loudoun County. Led by fine net play by both players, Jim and Scott swarmed all over them 6-0 in the first set. The second set saw a few missed volleys by the Fort duo but it wasn’t enough to help Stonebridge as the undefeated FDHS team ran their record to 17-0 with a 6-3 win in the second set.
The weather was hot and Jim had a lot taken out of him in his first singles match, but he had to go right back out and play the singles semifinals against the Dulles District Champion, Brian Jordan from Potomac Falls for his third match of the day. Jim faced a senior with a powerful and accurate serve and strong forehand. In the first set, Jim returned serve well, got an early break, and went up 4-2 and 5-3. But Jordan came back and had his ad to even the match at 5-5 after winning the ninth game. But just when the momentum seemed to be in Jordan’s hands, Jim ripped a passing shot right down the line to get back to deuce. A Jordan mistake then a missed lob after Jim had a great approach shot gave Jim the first set, 6-4. The second set was much like the first–Jim broke out to a 5-2 lead by breaking Jordan’s serve three times. But he had trouble holding his own and suddenly found himself only up 5-4 and the game score 5-40. Again Jim roared back by playing the crucial points flawlessly, got a match point when Jordan misssed a forehand long, then played steady until Jordan dropped a backhand in the net. It was a great win for Jim, upped his season record to 18-1, but he won’t have much time to celebrate because Tuesday’s finals pit him against Stillwagon from Handley. And in doubles, he and Scott must play Stillwagon and Hicks in the semifinals immediately after the singles finals.
REGIONAL INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT. Tuesday, May 28 at Handley High School
The high school tennis careers of Jim and Scott came to an end at Handley on the final day of Regional play. Unlike other sports in which the top several from the region get to advance on to state play, in tennis only the regional champion moves on. Jim was the runner-up in Region II, falling to defending state champion Matt Stillwagon of Handley 6-2, 6-1. In both sets, Stillwagon got a break at 2-1 and overpowered Jim with a fierce forehand and serve. Jim’s season record in singles ended at 18-2 with both losses to Stillwagon. His four year record at #1 ended at 66-11. In doubles, Scott and Jim played shot-for-shot with Stillwagon and Hicks. Down a break in the first set, 4-2, they broke Hicks then held Scott’s serve to even the match at 4-4. Handley managed to win the next two games and the first set, 6-4. The second set was much like the first; Handley got an early break and led 4-2 but this time the FDHS duo broke Stillwagon and held Scott’s serve to get back to 4-4. Handley seemed to have all the luck with them in the next game when they got two points on a mishit frame shot that eluded Scott and Jim then won the game on a gift from the net cord to take a 5-4 lead. But FDHS roared back when Scott ripped a forehand down the line past Stillwagon to even the set at 5-5. Hicks held serve then they broke Jim for the match, 7-5. It was the first loss of the season for Jim and Scott who ended at 17-1. Their overall four year record was 53-13.