ROCHELLE — Six seniors are the most that head coach Kristy Eckardt has had on the Rochelle varsity boys tennis team. The seniors came through in a big way when the Hubs hosted Streator for Senior Day at Rochelle Township High School on Monday.
Five seniors stepped up to sweep all three varsity doubles matches, scoring three points to lead Rochelle over Streator by a final score of 4-1 for the team’s first home victory of the 2019 season. The Hubs are now 3-2 over their last five matches after starting the season 0-16.
“We came out really strong which is something we’ve struggled with at times this year,” Eckardt said. “We were close with Streator in every match, and seeing the boys pull out wins in most of those matches was something we’ve been working toward throughout the season.”
Seniors Hector Garcia and Emilio Nava teamed up and took down Max Baker and Tristen Geary 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles. Seniors Diego Lopez and Caden Manning swept their first set against Jason Houch and Luke Elias before holding on in the second set to win 6-0, 7-6(5) at No. 2 doubles. Senior Alex Galambos and junior Gabe Nava defeated Caleb Hawthorne and Cooper Wahl 6-2, 7-5 at No. 3 doubles.
“Their confidence is showing and I think the boys are finally starting to piece things together,” Eckardt said. “They know now that they can go to the net to score points and they can keep their first serve in play. They’re seeing how their hard work is beginning to pay off.”
Rochelle and Streator split two varsity singles matches, with freshman Jason Zheng winning the third-set tiebreaker over Alex Granados at No. 2 singles to take his match 6-0, 4-6, 10-1. Junior Sean Flanagan fell 5-7, 0-6 against Davey Rashid at No. 1 singles. The Hubs will host both the Northern Illinois Big 12 Varsity Championships and the IHSA Class 1A Sectional over the next two weekends.
“I think we will be competitive in both tournaments,” Eckardt said. “We played a lot of close matches against those teams and it’s been a while since we’ve faced most of them. I think our improvements are really going to show.”