by Calli Newberry
With two players and one match left to finish, the Almont boys tennis team held a 4-3 lead over Sandusky on Thursday afternoon.
Everyone had long been finished, and Almont senior Blake Campbell was fighting back from a first set loss against Sandusky junior Annie Ross in the No. 2 singles flight. Their match was the only one to go into three sets, two of which ended in a tiebreaker. The final result: 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 6-0. Campbell took the win, helping his team earn its 10th victory of the year, for an overall record of 10-14-5.
“We’re stronger in singles than we are in the doubles. Most of our players in the singles have been playing multiple years,” Almont head coach Rob Busonne said. “Blake at second singles, he’s more of just a solid, consistent, not a huge power game or anything, just really solid and consistent so he tends to have a lot longer points and matches.”
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The Raiders swept the singles matches and won in the No. 2 doubles to rack up their five points. Senior Sam Bussone had the second-closest singles match of the day, as he defeated Sandusky junior Jonathan Wentzel 6-3, 6-3.
“We’ve got Sam at first singles, he’s got a great all-around game. He tends to play a solid match and can usually hang with anyone in the BWAC,” Busonne said. “It feels really good to see when he can pull his game together. He struggled a little bit this year, but when he puts it together, he’s pretty dominant. I’m glad for him when he can do that since he’s put in a lot of work.”
Sam Busonne said he’s enjoyed seeing his own progress over the last four seasons, crediting new training and confidence for his improved success.
“It’s been a good process I guess. I’ve been diversifying my training. Lifting weights has really helped me in my game,” he said. “I’ve improved most in serves and consistency. I’ve still got a long way to go but it’s just nice seeing how far I’ve come. Freshman year I played four singles. I wasn’t as strong, and I wasn’t as fast. I think I would have benefited if I was more dynamic, and I think I was less confident my freshman year. I was just scared to death of everybody, especially seniors.”
He said he is looking to play at the next level and has been visiting different colleges, but his academics will come first. Before making any decisions, however, he’s going to enjoy this last season with his team, which he said has also made many improvements.
“We’ve come a long way. Even the freshman now, seeing all the prospects is really impressive,” Sam Busonne said. “Owen plays four singles and has never touched a racket in his life. He’s doing amazing. Even with our doubles, they try as hard as they can and they get a win here and there, they just need to stick with it because they’re all young.”
Freshman Owen Viaene defeated freshman Logan Trepkowski 6-1, 6-0 in the No. 4 singles flight, and at No. 3, sophomore Jerry Schurig defeated freshman Carson Shuart with the same 6-1, 6-0.
“It’s funny because our one singles and three singles are kind of more power gamers, and our second and four singles are more of a control-style of the game,” Rob Busonne said. “Generally Owen has longer matches at four singles.”
Sandusky found most of its success in the doubles matches, winning at the No. 1, No. 3, and No. 4 spots.
“Our first doubles, this is their second year playing together. They’re a little older, a senior and a sophomore, but the senior has actually only been playing for two years so he’s relatively new to the game,” Rob Bussone said. “There are some on the team who are just struggling to pull out the wins, but they play tough matches and play good points, just not quite getting the wins.”
In the No. 1 spot, Sandusky’s Caleb Minard and Carson Shampo defeated Markie Schlanderer and Rich Rockey, 6-1, 6-0. Almont’s Nolan Roszczewski and Clay Roszczewski are a pair of brothers playing at the No. 2 spot and defeated Gabe Drabant and Christian Schuart, 6-1, 7-5.
“Our second doubles is made of both first year players, a junior and a freshman. The junior had never played before this year, so basically they are two freshmen playing really,” Rob Busonne said. “They’re a solid team and are pulling out some wins for us. They’re very athletic, but they’re just newer to the game and are still getting their skills and working together. They’ve really improved from the beginning of the season until now.”
Jacob Papp and Parker Ulfig defeated Almont’s team of Troy Pape and Cooper Schapman, 6-2, 6-4, in the No. 3 spot, and at No. 4, Isabella Stoutenburg and Eli Odle won over John Hall and William Kasper, 6-1, 6-0.
“Our third and fourth doubles are just young players, struggling to find their game and learn how to hit the shots consistently,” Rob Bussone said. “They can hit a good shot here and there but not consistently.”
Only a couple more conference matches remain in the regular season before the final league meet. Almont, Yale, and Armada reign as the top three teams in the BWAC and will settle their differences on Saturday, Oct. 2. The tournament will be in Armada, starting at 9 a.m.
Yale holds a 2-1-1 record in the conference with a loss to Armada and a tie with Almont. Armada sits at 4-0-1, and tied with Almont. And Almont is 1-0-2, with two league matches left to play.