By John Bombatch
XENIA — Moments before her team was to play a varsity tennis match against Bellbrook on Tuesday afternoon, a very nervous Xenia Christian freshman Ruby Young asked that her picture not be taken. She didn’t want everybody “to see how bad I played, especially if I lose,” she said.
Tuesday’s match pitted a pair of youthful Greene County area teams who are still searching for their own identities.
And while XC senior Michael Bricker and Bellbrook sophomore Andrew Haberlandt battled each other for more than two hours before determining which team would ultimately win, lots of fun and a good deal of competitive tennis was enjoyed by both teams.
Finally, with nearly every varsity and junior varsity match finished (except for Ruby’s doubles match with her partner, Paige, which was the final match of the evening) and 2 hours and 5 minutes after the no. 1 singles players had began their duel, Bricker claimed a 6-3, 7-6 (4) match win to earn Xenia Christian the 3-2 team win.
Xenia Christian earned singles wins by Bricker, Preston Surls and Jansen Smart.
Bellbrook, playing in its first team match of the season, claimed doubles wins by Sam Songer and Garrison Williams at first doubles, and by Josh Boyd and John Petric at second doubles.
“That was really a lot of fun,” said Bellbrook coach Karen Haviland. “The hospitality here was excellent, we got to see things we need to work on, and we got to see some nice things that are working out pretty well right now.”
Haviland said the match with Xenia Christian marked the first times that her doubles teams had played together. The Songer-Williams duo trailed Xenia Christian’s sophomore pair of Ethan Croucher and Matt Sullivan 3-0 in the second set before rallying to a 7-6 (2), 6-4 win at first doubles.
Boyd and Petric won 6-1, 6-2 over XC’s David Rose-Luke Neikirk tandem.
Surls defeated Bellbrook’s Bryan Shepard in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) at second singles; and Smart defeated Bellbrook third singles player Tag Stork 6-1, 6-3.
“We’ve got six freshmen and six sophomores out of our 18 players, so we’re very young. But our singles players pulled through for us tonight,” Xenia Christian coach Van Holloway said. “I’m really proud of the kids.
“Two weeks ago, I had half the team hitting foam tennis balls in the gym while the other half was in my classroom learning how to keep score. So to see them having fun out here and enjoying the game of tennis, it’s made it all worthwhile, to me,” he said.
And as for Ruby? She scored the winning point in a single-set 6-4 junior varsity doubles match win. After the match, she hugged a photographer, coach Holloway and her mom, as she made her way off the court.
Xenia Christian (2-0) plays at Greeneview in Jamestown’s Seaman Park on Thursday, then they’ll host Germantown Valley View on Friday on the Fairgrounds courts. Bellbrook (0-1) will begin Southwestern Buckeye League, Southwestern Division play Brookville later this week.
XENIA CHRISTIAN 3, BELLBROOK 2
SINGLES: 1. Michael Bricker (Xenia Christian) def. Andrew Haberlandt 6-3, 7-6 (4); 2. Preston Surls (Xenia Christian) def. Bryan Shepard 6-3, 6-2; 3. Jansen Smart (Xenia Christian) def. Tag Stork 6-1, 6-3.
DOUBLES: 1. Sam Songer/Garrison Williams (Bellbrook) def. Ethan Croucher/Matt Sullivan 7-6 (2), 6-4; 2. Josh Boyd/John Petric (Bellbrook) def. David Rose/Luke Neikirk 6-1, 6-2.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.