Smith finds winning angles against Immaculata
It took Ben Smith a few games Friday to figure out his singles match against Immaculata's Clare Bassett. But once he discovered the right angle, the match was his and the dual belonged to De Soto.
Smith took his usual approach to the match by attempting to volley the ball away early in the match. But the senior struggled early, and Bassett was good enough to hit the ball past him.
"Early on he wasn't hitting his volleys with enough angle, so the ball would go back to his opponent," De Soto coach Doug Opdycke said. "Finally, he came up and hit the ball at more of an angle so the returns were harder to make, and he started to win more games."
Smith's 8-4 win spearheaded De Soto to a 7-2 victory over the Raiders.
His heroics were made possible when Spike Delapena gave De Soto a 4-2 advantage with an 8-3 win over Gary Domke at No. 3 singles. Delapena gave the momentum back to the Wildcats after De Soto lost matches at No. 1 and No. 2 singles.
"In the middle of the match, he faltered a little bit," Opdycke said. "But he came back strong to finish."
Nathan Cardiff and Josey Payne won matches at No. 5 and No. 6 singles, securing the 7-2 Wildcats win. Opdycke said both players played with great effort.
Cardiff defeated Andy Kim 8-3, while Payne knocked off Nick Domke by an identical score.
Dan Hoschouer was deceivingly close to winning his match at No. 1 singles against Nick Wente. The sophomore lost by a decisive 8-2 margin, but several of his shots could have just as easily stayed in play.
Hoschouer played very well at times, but Wente controlled the ball and the match pretty much from the beginning.
"Dan wasn't consistent enough," Opdycke said. "Wente was. He (Dan) said after the match that many of his shots were just barely out."
Andy Edwards started fast against Brent Heitzelman at No. 2 singles but fell in the end by a 9-8 (7-3) margin. Opdycke said Edwards was up 7-4 at one point in the match, but he gave up too many games in the end.
Opdycke said Edwards has been in position to put other matches away as well before losing. "He needs to figure out how to finish the match," the coach said.
De Soto won all three doubles matches, which opened the dual.
Hoschouer and Edwards upended the Raider duo who defeated the No. 1 doubles team by an 8-6 margin.
For the most part Hoschouer and Edwards served well and attacked the net during the match.
Delapena and Smith won their No. 2 doubles match against Bassett and Gary Domke by a score of 8-2. Smith used his height and quickness to control the net, while Delapena took care of the backcourt.
"They both can cover a lot of court and handle the net play," Opdycke said, "It was a good win for them."
Payne and Cardiff defeated Kim and Nick Domke 8-3 at No. 3 doubles.
De Soto is in action again at 9 a.m. Saturday at a tournament in Baldwin.