ROCHELLE — After opening its season at the Rock Island Invitational this past weekend, the Rochelle varsity boys tennis team returned to familiar courts on Tuesday, when the Hubs hosted Mendota for the team’s first home dual match of the year.
Despite strong singles play from senior Emilio Nava, the Hubs were unable to secure the victory, falling 4-1 against the Trojans to drop to 0-4 overall. Nava won the first varsity match of the day, topping Mendota’s Preston Lewis by a score of 6-1, 6-4 for his first singles victory of the season.
“Emilio played really well and he’s always very consistent,” head coach Kristy Eckardt said. “The other player was trying to smash the ball during the first set and Emilio was always getting the ball back over the net. Once the other player calmed down, Emilio did a good job of staying consistent and moving the ball around.”
Mendota evened the match 1-1 when Parker Manning and Andrew Stamberger defeated Rochelle senior Diego Lopez and junior Saul Alanis 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3 doubles. The Trojans jumped ahead 2-1 soon after, with Taylor Joyce and Aaron Schmidt holding off Rochelle senior Alex Galambos and junior Gabe Nava in the second set to win 6-1, 7-5 at No. 2 doubles.
“I really liked how Alex and Gabe played together,” Eckardt said. “That was the first time they had a chance to play together and I thought they complemented each other well. Alex was really confident at the net, and they had good camaraderie on the court. I think they’ll eventually get a win together.”
Needing one more point to secure the team win, Mendota locked down its third point at No. 1 doubles after Noah DeLong and Aaron Brandner topped Rochelle freshman Jason Zheng and junior Sean Flanagan 6-3, 6-2. Rochelle senior Hector Garcia took an early lead over Mendota’s Logan Brandner at No. 2 singles, but Garcia fell behind over the final two sets, and Brandner emerged victorious in three sets, 1-6, 7-5, 10-6.
“Hector did a nice job,” Eckardt said. “I’d love to have him in doubles every match but he does great in singles as well. He hung in there and tried to go for some shots toward the end of the match.”