MANCHESTER -- In an intense and hard fought matchup, the Burr and Burton Academy boys tennis team was narrowly able to pull out a win against Rutland to keep their perfect season in tact.
"Today we fought hard. Rutland has improved tremendously," said BBA coach Pete McNealus. "[We] got a couple of key points, especially at the end. It could have gone either way."
The game came right down to the wire, being decided by the No. 2 doubles team of Justin Walla and Justin Tegen who defeated Rutland's Nick Boles and Julian Marcell 6-3, 7-5 to secure the 4-3 team victory.
One of the crucial matches of the afternoon came during the No. 2 singles match between Sam Cochrane and the Raider's (9-2) Patrick Salsbury-Jennings.
In what was the match of the afternoon, Cochane - who along with No. 1 singles player Peter Oh was playing at Equinox on the Battenkill - took the first set from Salisbury-Jennings 7-5 in a tiebreaker.
"It was every match they played. Every point went long," said McNealus. "It was a lot of intensity out there. It was really a hard fought match and they played really well, both of them. It was a really good match."
Salisbury-Jennings opened up the second set by taking a 3-1 lead headed into the fifth game. Cochrane battled back from 15-40 in the game to 15-30. On the next point a controversial call, in which there was some debate between the two players as to whether the ball had touched Cochrane before going out of bounds, forced duece and Cochrane went on to win the game to make it 3-2 and go up 4-3.
After Cochrane jumped out to 6-2 lead in the super tiebreaker, Salisbury-Jennings rattled off four points to Cochrane's 1 to narrow the gap to 7-6. After the players traded points, Cochrane was able to put Salisbury-Jennings away to secure the win.
In the No. 1 singles match of the afternoon, Peter Oh made short work of Rutland's Peter Gibbs in the first set. However, Gibbs showed fortitude, battling Oh hard in the second set.
After a close first game, Oh was able to win the second game to take a 2-0 advantage. Gibbs won the next game and pushed Oh to duece in the fourth, before Gibbs made a miscue hitting the ball out of bounds to give Oh a 3-1 advantage. The two traded games before Oh was able to win the seventh game and take a 5-2 advantage.
But Gibbs had no intention of going that quietly. In the eighth game the two battled to duece before Oh hit the ball long to make the score 5-3. After Oh jumped out to a 40-15 lead in the ninth game, Gibbs battled back to force duece. But on the crucial point he hit the ball out of bounds, securing the win for Oh.
Meanwhile on the other courts at the Manchester Parks and Recreation Department, BBA (9-0) was struggling a bit.
No. 3 singles player Noah Wetherald lost to Rutland's Alvaro Lopez 6-1, 6-2, Coley Stillman lost to the Raiders' Jake Piatek 6-0, 6-0 and Christian Webb lost to Dalton Eckhardy 6-2, 6-2. With BBA's No. 1 doubles team of Conor Harrington and Nick Fayette taking their match over Rutland's Pat O' Rourke and Jack Foley in a super tiebreaker (6-2, 3-6, 10-2), the outcome of the match rested on Walla and Tegen and they delivered.
Despite not taking the match, Rutland coach Rob Purdy was pleased with his team's performance.
"The score up in Rutland (earlier this year) didn't reflect our effort. I think it was 6-1," said Purdy. "So I knew, and they knew, that we could produce better play, better scores. I think hopefully if we play them again who knows. A breaker here, a breaker there. So, it worked out just the way I thought it [would.]"