HERMISTON — Thomas McCullough and Patrick Wicks kept their hot streak going on a blustery afternoon at Hermiston High school, and the Bulldogs boys tennis team pulled out a narrow victory over The Dalles on Thursday.
Each team won four matches, and Hermiston earned the win based on sets 10-9.
McCullough and Wicks remained undefeated in district matches at No. 1 doubles with their 6-0, 7-5 win over Alex Lopez and Omar Rodriguez. The whipping gusts encouraged players to keep shots low and rallies were short, but Wicks said it didn’t affect their game too much.
“Not much difference, just when someone lobs it or serves it it’s hard to read,” he said. “(The Dalles) were pretty consistent with the ball and they were good at the net, and tall.”
The Bulldogs were fairly steady with their serves, but seemed to be their strongest on defense and won several points with well-placed returns.
“My defense was really good today, I got a lot of shots back that I usually don’t,” McCullough said.
Hermiston coach Shann West said he thought it was another quality win for the duo.
“The other team really picked it up to rise to their level and they did a good job to hold off that surge,” he said.
After winning just one match at districts last season, McCullough and Wicks aim to reach the state tournament this year and improved to 6-1 on the season with the win.
A tournament in Madras this weekend that will feature some of the district’s top players should give them a better idea of where they stand with three weeks left until the district championships.
“It’s a big one,” McCullough said. “We want to be able to do good so we can get seeded for districts.”
Hermiston No. 2 doubles team Koby Grigg and Jason Morris have had a bumpier go in their first season as a pairing, but got a boost with a three-set comeback win over Brandon Bustamante and Ethan Martin. After losing in their first set 6-1, the Bulldogs trailed 4-1 in the second set before rallying to win after an 8-6 tiebreak.
“We had to pull one out of thin air pretty fast,” Morris said. “The wind was a little bit of a factor, but we were just in our own heads. (The Dalles) put up a heck of a fight and we just made mistake after mistake.”
“They needed to change their mindset and they were able to do that and come up with a big win for us,” West said.
They won the tiebreaker set 10-6 with some strong play at the net, and seemed to keep each other entertained between points with their court banter.
“I’ve just been recently getting more aggressive, but in this game it definitely helped,” said Morris. “We have a lot of fun with it. We get along pretty well, we definitely help each other focus less on being mad at the game.”
Hermiston’s other two wins came in straight sets at Nos. 2 and 3 singles as Caleb Jorgenson beat James Pashek 6-4, 6-0, and Hayden Cissna beat Pedro Lopez 6-4, 6-3 in a match that caught West’s eye.
“Hayden Cissna played some of his best tennis today I thought, moving the ball around, keeping it out of the middle,” he said.
The Dalles freshman Quinn Wilson won at No. 1 singles 6-3, 6-2 over Jose Gonzalez, and the Riverhawks prevailed in three-set wins at No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles.
“They had some really good points,” West said of the players that suffered losses. “What we’ve been working on has shown through. I’m proud of some of those younger guys, stepping up and doing a good job.”
Hermiston is at the Madras Tournament on Saturday morning and will host Hood River on Wednesday at 4 p.m. for their final home match of the season.
Quinn Wilson (T) def. Jose Gonzalez 6-3, 6-2
Caleb Jorgenson (H) def. James Pashek 6-4, 6-0
Hayden Cissna (H) def. Pedro Lopez 6-4, 6-3
Andy Lopez (T) def. Jose Sanchez 6-4, 6-7 (9), 10-6
Thomas McCullough/Patrick Wicks (H) def. Alex Lopez/Omar Rodriguez 6-0, 7-5
Koby Grigg/Jason Morris (H) def. Brandon Bustamante/Ethan Martin 1-6, 7-6 (8), 10-6
Deven Petzl/Justin Breslane (T) def. Matt Eckhardt/Austin Garcia 4-6, 7-5, 10-5
Edgar Contreras/Jose Reyes (T) def. Alan Zepeda/Eli Muniz 7-5, 6-0