After rousing No. 3 doubles comeback together against visiting St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond Tuesday (April 9, 2019), two separately battle to tight singles wins to turn 4-3 team deficit into 5-4 Midland Empire Conference triumph
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — With what had been a 3-1 lead powered mostly by the performance of senior top player Tyler Maasdam having vanished in a series of one-sided singles triumphs by visiting St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS tennis Hornets’ chances of posting their first 2019 Midland Empire Conference dual-match win Tuesday (April 9) rested on the shoulders of the Hornets’ other two senior lineup members.
Seth Batye and Colten Johnson delivered in the clutch.
Their team down 4-3 with two singles sets still in progress, Batye in No. 4 position and Johnson in No. 6 locked into close battles that could have gone either way, with Bishop LeBlond set to take the team victory, if it got even one. It didn’t.
Having earlier combined for a come-from-behind 9-7 decision in No. 3 doubles, Batye fought off Jacob Burri 8-5 and Johnson squeezed past Logan Hovey 9-7 in their singles play, vaulting CHS to the 5-4 match verdict.
The Hornets thus claimed their third dual win in a row and their first in three MEC outings, improving their overall mark to 4-3 heading into Thursday’s and Friday’s “Tennis Under the Lights” tournament at Kirksville.
“The seniors carried the team,” Bob Long, CHS head coach, salutes.
Persevering for the tough, close singles victories might have seemed like no big deal for Johnson and Batye after what they’d teamed to do in doubles.
With Maasdam and No. 1 partner Noah Crowe having fairly-quickly dispatched BLHS’ two best players – Elliott Rocha and Ben Hudson – 8-4 in the top doubles position, but Bishop LeBlond on its way to an 8-5 decision in No. 2 doubles, the Johnson-Batye tandem was faced with the task of recovering from a bad start that left it down 1-4 to Burri and Hovey.
Recover the two 12th graders did, raising their level of play to claim the next four games, Long reports. Although the BLHS Golden Eagles No. 3 duo pulled out of its tailspin to win the 10th game and even the set at 5-5, the Chillicotheans had gained the confidence, rhythm, and momentum with their rally.
From 5-5, Batye and Johnson took three of the next four games to move within a game of winning the set. With a tiebreaker awaiting if they didn’t capture the 16th game, the Hornets completed a set- and, it proved later, match-saving run, winning their eighth game out of the final 11 to seize the set, 9-7, and give CHS a 2-1 edge after doubles play. For the Chillicothe pair, it was their third set victory in as many opportunities thus far in 2019, a statistic that also holds true for the Maasdam/Crowe duo.
When Maasdam racked up an 8-2 triumph over Rocha in No. 1 singles, it improved his singles record this season to a solid 8-3 and seemingly positioned the Hornets well for the team win.
However, Bishop LeBlond singles wins at Nos. 2, 3, and 5 with no more than three losses in any of those sets put the guest Golden Eagles squarely in the driver’s seat, only to have Johnson and Batye push the “eject” button.