The Patriots responded with a hard-fought win over the Panthers on Tuesday. While the 8-1 final might seem like a blowout, four of the nine matches went the full three sets, the Patriots prevailing in three of them.
Their win boosted the Patriots league record to 7-2 as they wrapped up second place behind Deer Valley, which handed Heritage both of its losses. The Wolverines are undefeated in BVAL play.
“They know that Antioch’s gotten much better and that we had to come out with our best to earn a victory,” Carmen said. “That’s one thing I’ve tried to instill in them all year long: we’ve got to continue to get better because everyone else is continuing to get better.”
Since freshmen Trevor Samuda, Worku Ousman, junior Adam Tamura and the senior doubles team of Adam Nielson and Josiah Younger all won their matches in straight sets, the Patriots could have lost all of the three-set matches and still beaten the Panthers. Samuda, the team’s top player, hasn’t dropped a league match all season, while Carman labeled Tamura, the team’s number two player, as one of the season’s pleasant surprises.
The loss dropped Antioch to 5-4 in league play. The lone Panthers’ victory came in the No. 6 single’s match, when senior Antonio Hernandez scored a come-from-behind victory over freshman Jack Farnstrom. After dropping the first set 4-6, Hernandez came back to win the second set 6-3 and took the decisive third set 6-1.
Panthers’ senior Kyle Morrissey, as well as the doubles teams of Thai Luu (junior) and Abdullah Matice (freshman), plus the senior duo of Harrison Solomon and Deondre Grady, advanced to a third set before falling to the Heritage players.
“In the individual matches, we were more competitive than the first time we played them; I was a little disappointed that we lost those three-setters,” Panthers head coach Larry Johnson said before shifting his attention to the season as a whole. “It’s hard to think we could have done a lot better, since we lost pretty severely to Heritage and Deer Valley both times.”
Heritage and Antioch are also radically different in another way. Aside from the doubles team of Luu and Matice, and junior Mike Bonzi, the rest of the Panthers who took on the Patriots are seniors.
Heritage is the exact opposite. The doubles team of Nielson and Younger, plus McKenzie Keady, are the only Patriot seniors, while doubles partners Mike Moody, Tyler Friedel and Tamura are the only juniors. The youth influence was not lost on the Patriots’ current seniors, whose match versus Antioch was their final home contest.
“I have all of these people below me in age, but as I’m the No. 5 player, they’re above me in rank,” Keady said. “It’s very cool to know that there are a lot of kids on the team that I have to admit are better than me. It’s good to know that the team is headed in the right direction.”