By Josh Brown
TROY — With the overall team match suddenly tied 2-2, his third singles opponent leading 5-4 in the second set and all eyes firmly on his court, all the pressure was on Troy’s Matt Schmitt.
He didn’t mind. In fact, he gave the crowd a show.
Schmitt reeled off seven consecutive points to kick off a run of three straight games to close out a 6-2, 7-5 victory at third singles over Fairmont’s Sully O’Hara, not allowing the already-two-hour-long match to go to a third set and putting away a 3-2 victory for the Trojan tennis team Wednesday in Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover play.
“Oh yeah, there was a lot of pressure,” Schmitt said. “But I think that’s what helps. It really motivated me — and it’s nice when the rest of your team can come over and support you.”
The first doubles team of Matt Alexander and Ian Stutz steamrolled through their match, finishing before anyone else with a quick 6-1, 6-0 victory over Ethan Geiger and Jake Haas. And at first singles, Luke Oaks simply overpowered Ian Steiner, who played a strong match despite a 6-0, 6-1 score — Oaks was just that dominant.
“First doubles rolled, and Luke rolled,” Troy coach Mark Goldner said. “That’s the difference between Luke last year and this year — he’s coming to the net more and ending points quicker. He’s putting points away.”
But at second singles, Fairmont’s Daniel Bendel rallied from a 4-1 first-set deficit to win it in a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-5) over Troy’s Connor Oaks, and frustration simply got the better of the Trojan freshman as he dropped the second set 6-0.
“The kid Connor lost to played first (singles) for them last year,” Goldner said. “He probably played his best set of the entire year in that first set even though he lost it. You still see a lot of immaturity there, but he is getting better. Playing second, he’s going to face a lot of good players.”
And the second doubles team of Aaron Coon and Carter Hench bounced back after dropping the first set 6-4, winning the second set 6-2 and even taking a 3-1 lead in the third. But Fairmont’s Nick Fantaci and Nate Powers ran off the final five games to win the decisive set 6-3.
“Second doubles, they were down 4-1 in the first set and came back but lost it 6-4, then they played very steady, won the second set and got the lead in the third,” Goldner said. “They let up a bit, though, and Aaron racket cracking didn’t help, either. It just showed a little inexperience on their part.”
Which left it all up to Schmitt, who had cruised through the first set but remained a break behind throughout the second. He trailed 5-4 once the last match other than his was over, and three sets of bleachers worth of fans and teammates all migrated to watch his match.
“Yeah, it was really intense,” Schmitt said. “I just knew I needed to keep my composure. I had to stay calm and play point by point.”
And the first seven points went his way as he tied the set at 5-5, and after a quick hiccup at 40-0, he took a 6-5 edge. He lost the first point of what proved to be the final game, but he ran off four straight to finish the match and give Troy the team win.
“Matt has played well,” Goldner said. “He’s been very steady and consistent all year. I’m not going to go in and make him change his game at 5-4 in a set — he just needed to stay consistent, and that’s what he did.
“I think our match against Lebanon earlier this year helped him. He had fallen behind 5-2 in a set there, but he stayed steady and won that set 7-5. He’s been there before, so he didn’t panic and just kept playing his game.”
With the win, Troy improved to 9-1 on the season. And on Tuesday, the Trojans improved to 1-1 in the GWOC North Division with a 5-0 victory over Trotwood.
In the match against the Rams, Luke Oaks defeated Hank Grinner at first singles 6-0, 6-0. At second singles, Connor Oaks defeated Mario Rodgers 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. At third singles, Schmitt defeated Emir Moore 6-0, 6-0. At first doubles, Alexander and Stutz defeated Jordan Adams and Joel Kelty 6-2, 6-1. And at second doubles, Coon and Hench defeated Trevon Battle and Kobe Vinegal 6-2, 7-5.
Troy is on the road at Miamisburg today and then plays a makeup match at Springfield Friday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.