At the head of the winning effort was junior Justin Monge, who so far is 2-0 as Freedom’s top singles player. Recently bumped up from the No. 2 slot, Monge has responded well to the leadership role. It took a tiebreaker on Tuesday, but Monge was able to earn a victory over the Panthers’ top athlete, Ikram Najib.
“I just tried hard and everything went into place,” Monge said.
The win gave the Falcons a 5-5 record overall; 1-1 against Bay Valley Athletic League teams.
Freedom went 5-1 in singles play, losing to Antioch in the No. 5 match, as Mike Bongi emerged over Drake Miller. The Falcons also swept all three doubles games.
Though the score was not exactly in the Panthers’ favor, head coach Larry Johnson felt they fought Freedom admirably in what will likely be a season of growth. Antioch fell to 0-6 overall (0-1 BVAL).
“It was good to see Ikram come back from being down, and in the second set, strike back,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a lot of young players that just have to develop their game and hopefully show some improvement throughout the season and into next year.”
Things were not as positive on Monday for the Falcons, who found themselves on the business end of a 9-0 victory by Heritage, believed by some coaches to be the next BVAL champion. Freedom head coach Steve Amaro felt Tuesday’s win was important, allowing the team to recover mentally and prepare for Deer Valley and the next match-up with the Patriots.
“There are still things that we need to work on, but the positive thing that I saw is that everybody was willing to work on improvement,” Amaro said. “The things that we did poorly (Monday), they put behind them and really had a team focus.”