LYNNWOOD — Last year the Meadowdale boys tennis team tore through Wesco 3A en route to an undefeated season.
This year the Mavs were the last real test for a Shorewood team trying to duplicate their feat.
Thursday, in what was an evenly battled match, Shorewood got doubles victories in the final two matches to triumph 5-2, leaving it two wins shy of an undefeated season.
“We tried to come out like it was a normal match and play steady,” said Shorewood head coach Arnie Moreno. “I think our guys handled the pressure well.”
Against Meadowdale, Shorewood nearly met its match. Having played against each other for years at area clubs like Harbor Square Athletic Club and Klahaya Athletic Club, players from both teams know each other well, which adds to the rivalry and gave the match added tension.
“There has always been a friendly rivalry that we really appreciate as a team,” said Meadowdale head coach Mark Schneider. Shorewood's Hunter Nelson needed a tiebreaker in the first set to take a one-set lead on Meadowdale's Brian Nguyen at No. 1 singles. In the second set, Nguyen suffered some tightness in his quadricep and eventually fell 6-4. Shorewood's Miles Jamieson and Trevor Cronin won at No. 3 and 4 singles, respectively, to give the Thunderbirds a 3-1 lead.
But with No. 2 singles player Nick Ekern leading Justin Oh and the No. 2 and 3 doubles teams just warming up, a Mavericks' win was still a real possibility.
Ekern, who dropped a hard-fought second set to Oh, battled back in the third set to win 6-2 and leave it up to his teammates to bring home a win. Unfortunately for the Mavs, Shorewood's doubles teams of Isaac Brengelmann and Cameron McDowell and Evan Strandberg and Logan Keebler were up to the task.
Brengelmann and McDowell contained a late charge by Meadowdale's Jason Young and Bennett Holton to win 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) and Strandberg and Keebler cruised in the final set to take the No. 3 doubles match 7-5, 6-2.
“We had much more competitive matches in both No. 1 and 2 singles today — as well as the No. 1 doubles match,” said Schneider. “Our level of play is closely matched — but, in the end Shorewood's doubles got the job done.”
Schneider was especially impressed with Ekern's 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2 win over Oh. Ekern, who lost to Oh in the players' first meeting on Sept. 22, overcame a tough second set and some bad cramping to put away the feisty singles player from Shorewood.
“It was a great match for Nick,” said Schneider. “He cramped up early in the third set, but after a banana and some Gatorade, he was good to go. He accomplished what I emphasize each and every match: Finish strong and leave everything on the court. He's a happy guy tonight.”
Shorewood will be heavy favorites going into it final matches against Everett today and Lynnwood Saturday. But Moreno is continuing to preach to his team to avoid getting overconfident.
“We have to stay focused,” Moreno said. “We have to go into these matches not doing anything different; just do what we do.