Looking to clinch a playoff spot, Hart boys tennis traveled to Saugus Tuesday afternoon.
In a dominating 15-3 win over the Centurions, the Indians did just that, clinching a spot with just one match day remaining.
“This has been a really good season,” said Hart head coach Allan Hardbarger. “The past couple years we haven’t been able to put it together, but this year we have a great young core of talent and we are really hungry to get back in the playoffs where we belong.”
Winning all but three of the sets, the Indians found their groove early as the No. 1 doubles partners, Daniel LaForteza and Jeremy Killian, stole their first-round match against Saugus’ No. 1 doubles partners, Justin Stanford and Sean O’Connell.
Down 5-1, LaForteza and Killian never gave up, willing each other with high fives and words of encouragement with every point that they scored. Winning the set 7-5, the two were ecstatic after the match.
“We figured out what was going wrong,” LaForteza said about the big come-from-behind win. “We picked it up mid-game because we knew we had to step it up for the team because I know that these guys want to go to playoffs as much as I do. So we just fixed some minor touches and got the win to pull us through.”
“I felt that we really focused and settled down and I’m glad I had my partner (Daniel) there to go through it with,” Killian said.
Hart’s No. 2 singles player, Luke Papayoanou, and the No. 3 singles player, Sam Fossa, also had good days with the exception of both losing to Saugus’ No. 1 player, Erin Pang. They rebounded to win their other two sets with identical scores of 6-1 and 6-0.
Giving Pang a run for his money in the second round, Fossa was able to go up on Pang 4-3 at the break, but ultimately fell 6-4 to the Cents’ No. 1 player.
“Sam definitely deserves some credit,” Hardbarger said about Fossa’s play on the day. “We lost Sam for about 80 percent of the season with a broken wrist, but he was able to heal, rehab and come back.”
Saugus’ Pang ended the day winning all three sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 for the Cents’ only three wins of the day.
“In the past, my forehand has been struggling,” Pang said about the match with Fossa. “I guess with Sam, I wasn’t used to the balls that he hit, so I kept shanking them.”
With a match against West Ranch today, Pang knows he’ll have to make some adjustments.
“Obviously, we have a lot more practice to do even though West Ranch is tomorrow,” Pang said. “I just have to focus on my game and not worry about the other person and just play my best.”
With a playoff spot clinched, Hart will have another opportunity to improve as they will travel to Golden Valley on Thursday.