Trinity tennis tops Brownstown 5-0

Kable Walton recorded a first Tuesday afternoon as boys tennis coach at Trinity Lutheran.

“This is the first time I’ve beaten Brownstown since I’ve been Trinity coach,” Walton said moments after the Cougars won 5-0, sweeping all five points in straight sets.

“The Trinity girls won last year, but this is the first year the boys have won since I’ve been coach,” he said. “A lot of the matches this year have been turning. It’s a positive trajectory. I really appreciate the work the guys are putting in this year.”

Trinity’s Solomon Hall won 6-3, 7-5 over Smith Hackman at No. 1 singles, Jack Stuckwisch was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Bryce Reaser at No. 2 singles and Nathan Finke defeated Elix Preston 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3 singles.

Walton liked the way his singles performed.

“They talk about mental toughness, and we make sure we start at the same level, and when we feel a little bit of a lull, we reenforce our mentality,” Walton said. “They started well, they kept it going and when their opponents pushed back, they were able to keep a steady course. I’m really happy the way they played today.”

The Braves were without varsity regulars Pierson Wheeler and Evan Schneider, and head coach Donnie Thomas said he is hoping to have them back Thursday when the Braves (6-7) face Eastern in a Mid-Southern Conference match at Pekin.

“They just outplayed us,” Thomas said. “They made us work. I thought Smith did a good job of coming back in the second set.”

Trinity’s Nathan Voelker and Jonathan Neawedde defeated Connor Gwin and Lane Steward 6-3, 6-1, at one doubles, and Will Gausmann and Max Peters topped Caysen Robertson and Jace Reaser 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles.

“I liked what I saw at one. The guys are playing with more confidence. They are sort of a new team. This may be their fourth match together,” Walton said. “They’re definitely starting to get the hang of it, their communication and their understanding of who does what on the court, because in doubles, you’ve got guys who are usually aggressive at the net and the other is picking up the ball. They’re learning to split the court. They’re really doing a good job.”

Voelker is the only senior on the team.

“I’ve played two matches at singles,” he said. “I like doubles. I like having someone out there with me. There’s a lot more communication. It’s not just all skills. You can tell the difference.”

Voelker said he and Neawedde are getting better the more matches they play together.

“You could tell today and the other games with Jonathan we’re just playing a lot better. We know each other a lot more now,” he said.

Winning the first set is pretty powerful, he said.

“You know if you lose the first set, you’re going to have an uphill battle,” he said. “I don’t know about the other guys, but I really don’t like doing tiebreakers, so I really want to win in two sets. I was getting my serves in pretty good today. I’ve had better matches, but I didn’t double-fault too many times, so that was good. My groundstrokes are all right. My volleys were pretty good. I did pretty well at the net.

“Beating Brownstown is good. Coming in for the summer practices, we had a lot more skills than we’ve had in the past, so it was looking good from the start.”

On filling the captain’s role, Voelker said, “I do a lot at practice. I lead drills sometimes. A lot of these guys have been playing tennis longer than I have, so I learn a lot from them sometimes. Communication is really the key in doubles.”

The Cougars are 8-5, and Walton said, “We’re playing a lot of matches this week. We’ve still got a match Thursday (home with Hauser), a tournament (Saturday) at Columbus East, then three matches next week, and then we go into the sectional. We’ve got a lot of tennis to play.”

In JV singles, Evan Abbott defeated C.J. Branaman, and Cadin Gruenwald defeated Sam Rohr.