Seniors bid tennis team a fond farewell

Seniors bid tennis team a fond farewell
Bryson Stuehmer, who will graduate this year, returns a shot on senior night at the Fairgrounds Park courts in Mexico. [Dave Faries]
Dave Faries

“We’re all family out here,” Andrew Stephens observed. “I love this group of guys.”

The group he was referring to is Mexico’s tennis team. On Thursday they observed senior day, recognizing seven players – including Stephens – in their final regular season appearance at the Fairgrounds Park courts.

That the Bulldogs lost 6-3 to a strong Osage squad didn’t mar the occasion.

“It’s a big relief to be able to play, to have fun with the team,” said senior Noah Harlan. “I’m glad we actually get a season.”

Like other spring sports teams, the Bulldogs were deprived of a 2019 schedule. But they were fortunate to be without a graduating class a year ago. So for the seven outgoing Bulldogs, it was a big day.
“We’re getting to represent the team with all our parents here,” Bryson Stuehmer said. “Our team is fun. We’re going to miss the team.”

Stuehmer teamed with fellow senior Randy Hernandez in the doubles session. The pair played well, but suffered a 10-3 setback. Brendan McKeown worked with senior Carter McIntosh for Mexico’s lone win in doubles, dropping Christopher Boyd and William Vickers 10-3.

Haden Frazier and senior Ryan Pemberton almost turned the early round in favor of the Bulldogs. They pitched in against Mark Pankiv and Vladimir Nahapetyan and both sides held on. Locked at 10 games each, they went into a seven game tiebreaker.

But even that couldn’t sort things out. The Osage pair finally pulled it out 9-7.

Frazier always finds his way into drawn out sets. The reason why eludes him.

“I wonder that myself,” he said. “I’ve played 41 games in two matches.”

His singles set against Pankiv for a time looked as if it, too, might extend into the late teens. But Frazier fell 10-4.

On the number one court Hernandez dropped a 10-1 affair that was far closer than it appeared. Almost every game went to 40-30.

“He just got the upper hand every time,” he explained.

Yet Hernandez was excited to be in the number one slot on senior night. “Tennis has been my main sport,” he said. “It’s going to end, but it’s been a great four years.”

McIntosh played evenly with Osage’s Ethan Kucsik, but was out-volleyed in the end, falling 10-5.

“It’s kind of sad,” he said, though he was not referring to the outcome. “It’s the last home game.”

Stuehmer and McKeown claimed Mexico’s two singles wins, both lopsided 10-1 contests. Osage’s Boyd outlasted Pemberton 10-2.

“I’ve had a great time playing tennis for Mexico,” Pemberton observed.

The Bulldogs swept the JV round.

Harlan and Dominic McKeown blanked their opponents, as did Zeven Ruiz and Declan Gleeson. Nathan Bull and Trent Lierheimer took a 6-2 win, which was matched by Gleeson and Andrew Pemberton and Stephens, playing with fellow senior Matthew Huemann.

“I always have a blast,” Huemann said of his time as a Bulldog. “I plan on playing all the time.”


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