The men's tennis team had a good first day at the NJCAA National Championship Tournament on Monday, May 16, recording two first round wins and good competitive matches.
At #5 Singles, Buddy Hippen defeated Nathaniel Shook of Mesa Community College (AZ) 6-3, 7-6(4) in an 8 a.m. match. Hippen's serve was on fire, which allowed him to take early control of the match. His opponent had great ground strokes but Hippen was coming to the net to keep the points short and keeping the ball in play when he had to. In the second set, Hippen came back from being down 2-1 to force a tie-breaker which he won 7-4 for the Blazers' first win of the tournament.
At #3 Doubles, Hippen and Cordell Powless defeated Mike Giordano and Dale Van Witzenberg of Moraine Valley 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. The Moraine Valley team started strong with solid serving and returning winning the first set quickly. In the second, Hippen and Powless made a tactical adjustment to switch returning sides. That proved to be a great decision as they started to roll on their opponents. They started making nearly all of their returns and started crossing to put away the weak volleys that their returns were forcing. It was simply great doubles execution and their best match of the season - what a great time to do it!
#1S: Kyle Stickler lost to Kyle Ogren from Mesa CC (AZ) 6-3, 6-0. Stickler took advantage of his opponent's early nerves to get to 3-3, but couldn't stop his big serve.
#2S: Joe Hawkes lost to Colt Kelley from Gadsden St. (AL) 6-1, 6-2. Hawkes was competing well in the games and showed off his speed, but Simon was more consistent and had a big game.
#3S: Nathan Stachowski lost to Charles Norman from Scottsdale CC (AZ) 6-2, 6-0. Stachowski came out of the gate extremely strongly to win the first two games as his opponent had a very powerful serve and forehand. Stachowski was returning his serve at nearly 100% and making Norman hit a winner to win his points. Slowly, though the percentages turned and Norman took over.
#4S: Cordell Powless lost to Maxim Fil from Johnson County (KS) 6-0, 6-0. The team saw Maxim at the Blazer Classic and he produced more magic against Powless including several amazing circus tweener shots against him. Powless was keeping the games competitive, but couldn't quite close one out.
#6S: Kirk Tass had a bye.
#1D: Stachowski/Stickler lost to Hardy/Regan from ABAC (GA) 6-0, 6-1. The ABAC team was returning amazingly well and didn't let Stachowski or Stickler get anything going.
#2D: Hawkes/Tass lost to Litkey/McCawley from Harford CC (MD) 7-5, 6-3. Hawkes and Tass were up a break in the first set, but their opponents did not go away quietly as they started putting a lot of pressure on Hawkes and Tass' serves. The opponents broke back twice to win the first set and then got another break in the second set to finish Hawkes and Tass off.