The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 1, 2012

Falcons find some inspiration

Nunley’s efforts spur Jefferson to W

Jefferson tennis player Jarred Nunley did not hit a single ball in the Falcons’ varsity match with Conneaut on Monday. He still managed to play a role in the team’s 4-1 victory over the Spartans.

“One of the things that was inspiring to my guys was I had Jarred Nunley play on the sixth court today (in the only junior-varsity match),” Jefferson coach Lou Murphy said. “He’s just an inspiration to my guys. It was his first victory all year. When he won the first set, my guys were just so happy. It lifted up the entire team.”

Conneaut coach Dave Simpson, whose squad fell to 8-6 with the loss, didn’t register the Falcons’ reaction, but he knows how that may have helped.

“I can certainly understand it,” he said. “I didn’t notice anything, that’s something the kids would notice. The more experienced players night feel a camaraderie with (Nunley) and have really started pulling for him.

“I could see that affecting my team the very same way.”

Nick Bishop, playing at first singles for Jefferson (10-7, 3-2 in All-American Conference), may have already been done playing at that point. He defeated Joey Brennan, 6-0, 6-0.

“I think Nick was done before anybody else was done with the first set,” Murphy said. “He played so well. He just overpowered his opponent.”

Zach Mucci played nearly as well, beating Anthony Chadwick of Conneaut, 6-1, 6-0, at second singles.

“Nick and Zach are at the peak of their games,” Murphy said. “They’re heading to sectionals and they’re trying to train to for that.

“Basically, both were working on their power games. They were working on their cross-court shots and shots down the lines. They know at sectionals they are going to see hard hitters and they wanted to work on timing.”

Falcons Alec McCartney and Bruce Colby may have played in the most entertaining match of the day.

“The first doubles team battled for every point,” Murphy said. “It was so much fun to watch. Neither team was going to give in. Even the Conneaut players came off the court saying that was a lot of fun.”

McCartney and Colby beat Anthony Walsh and Jeff Mast, 6-3, 6-4.

“The first doubles team played really well today,” Murphy said. “They’ve been mixing it up in attacking the net. I think that kept Conneaut off balance. Conneaut’s first doubles team is a really nice team.

“Bruce and Alec just really played well. They were sneaking up to the net and choosing the right moments to do it. It just worked really well today.”

The Spartans’ Scott Gerdes got the better of Mason Taylor at third singles, 6-3, 6-4.

“(Gerdes) has the best record on the team,” Simpson said. “He’s won nine or 10 matches. He’s been playing really well. He’s the typical third singles player.

“It’s hard to get it past him.”

“Their third singles player kept the ball going,” Murphy said. “He’s a backboard player. No matter how hard you hit it or where you hit it, he keeps the ball going.

“That’s probably one of the best matches Mason’s played all year. He hung with (Gerdes).”

The Falcons’ second-doubles team of Cody Magda and David Bookbinder may have helped Murphy to show his age a bit. But the duo redeemed itself a little, too.

“They were down 3-0 because they wanted to hit everything hard,” Murphy said. “They kept hitting everything out. I went to the fence and told them they weren’t making it fun for anyone.

“Cody is a hard worker. He was still on the courts when we left. He’s a senior. He doesn’t have to be out there.

“I went over and told him they gave me 50 gray hairs during the match, but that since he was on the court hitting again, he just made those 50 hairs turn blond.”

Magda and Bookbinder defeated Brandon Jashurek and Jacob Edwards, 6-3, 6-4, after being down, 3-0, in the first set.     

“Basically, (Magda and Bookbinder) were keeping the ball alive (after going down 3-0),” Simpson said. “That’s just basic strategy. The first rule is keep the ball on the court, the second is hit it where they’re not. That’s basic, basic strategy.

“Once they calmed down. They were keeping the ball in play instead of hammering it away. That gave them just enough to get them back in the match and that got them going.”

As for Nunley, he was repaid for giving so much of himself to his team.

“I wanted him to have an opportunity,” Murphy said. “We rotate our lineup a lot and he rarely gets the chance to get into the mix.

“He never misses practices. He even came to the Geneva JV Doubles Tournament with the guys. He knew he wasn’t playing but he was there to support the team. He works hard in practice. No matter the level they play, the guys see the same thing. It’s got to get through to the guys.

“I took the chance, gave him a shot and he came through,” Murphy concluded. “The team gave him an ovation. That’s powerful to a guy who doesn’t get to play much.”       

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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