JIM HUNSLEY: Ticket punched for tennis roller-coaster ride

2011-10-05T16:00:00Z 2011-10-06T06:00:06Z JIM HUNSLEY: Ticket punched for tennis roller-coaster rideBy Jim Hunsley Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 05, 2011 4:00 pm  • 

One boys tennis match continued to peak my interest Tuesday.

Wheeler's No. 1 team of Jordan Long and Lucas Jessen escaped with a 6-7 (11-13), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 win against Mishawaka's Andrew Laubner and Bobby LeRoy in a sectional match as part of the individual doubles tourney at Portage High School.

Admittedly, my main focus was on the semifinal boys tennis round of the team regional with faceoffs between No. 11 Penn (seven regional crowns) and No. 18 Valparaiso (15) plus long-time powerhouses South Bend St. Joseph's (nine) and LaPorte (12).

But I kept getting pulled back to the doubles match.

"It might have been more exciting if it was 6-7, 7-6, 7-6," Wheeler coach Mike Rosta said, "but I don't think my heart could've taken it."

Partly due to a one-hour delay in one semifinal -- a bus-scheduling error at Penn -- I had a chance to catch some of the Wheeler doubles match. Even as that semifinal started, I kept returning to the doubles match.

LaPorte beat St. Joe -- Long and Jessen squandered a 4-1 lead and lost the first sest.

Penn picked up the clinching third point at No. 1 singles -- Long and Jessen battled back to knot things.

A 20-minute discussion began over the status of the No. 3 singles match, where Penn's Victor Lu suffered a hand injury. It was finally decided that the match would be injury-defaulted -- and Valpo would be edged out 3-2.

No handshakes yet in the doubles match. The first match to start was now going to be the nightcap.

At one point, Rosta called back to school to inform personnel that he might not make an originally-scheduled supervision assignment due to the length of the match.

Long's miss-hit overhead found the part of the net but still landed in play on the other side of the court to conclude the three-plus hour match.

I was surprised that any players were standing after this marathon. Long and Jessen expended some energy during a first-set disagreement with the Caveman duo, but the Bearcats tandem still found the strength to persevere and pull out the win.

"Both guys were really tense," Rosta said. "We told them that once they would settle down, they would play better."

Jessen, a junior, said his senior partner kept him in control -- and he wanted to repay the favor.

"I pulled it through for him," Jessen said. "We lost focus a little bit."

After the match concluded, Long openly questioned his play for part of the match.

"What were those first two sets?," Long queried. "This was absolutely a roller coaster (ride). There were so many ups and downs."

Then other thoughts entered.

"Now I have Calculus 2 home work to do," Long said. "I'm also kind of hungry."

Since Long is a student-athlete, I just hope he had enough energy to finish his homework.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.hunsley@nwi.com.

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