The Saugus boys tennis team hosted Hart on Tuesday afternoon at the midway point in Foothill League play.
Saugus was able to win two sets in the first round, but Hart won all 12 sets in the second and third rounds to win 16-2.
Hart’s No. 1 singles player Luke Papayoanou lost just two games on the afternoon, defeating Andrew Belcher and Matthew Schwartz 6-0 before beating Lawrence Lam 6-2 in his last set.
“I was feeling good, my forehand felt really good and I didn’t make many unforced errors,” Papayoanou said. “Our team, we throw out the sets that we lost and we just move forward, and we did that really well today.”
Belcher, who serves as the No. 1 singles player for Saugus, was forced to retire midway through his first set against Papayoanou, as he was dealing with an arm injury. He was unable to play in the second and third rounds, forcing Saugus to default three sets.
“It was definitely a little bit of a disadvantage, but I think if anything it’s almost like a motivation thing for the rest of the team because that’s kind of driving them,” Saugus head coach Bailey Sindle said about having to forfeit three sets. “It should help the other singles players and doubles teams to keep pushing themselves knowing that we’re already in a little bit of a hole.”
Hart’s No. 2 singles player Jack Burns won all his sets, defeating Schwartz, Saugus’ No. 2 singles player, 6-4 in a back-and-forth battle in the first set, then defeating Lam 6-1.
“My ground shots were not as consistent, but I was finally able to break (Schwartz) that last game to win it,” Burns said. “The second one, I started to dial in my ground shots a little more and won those tight deuce games to win.”
Tanner Spendlove, Hart’s No. 3 singles player, lost his first set to Lam 6-2, but was able to defeat Schwartz 6-0 in the third round.
Lam was the only singles player to win a set for Saugus and the No. 2 doubles team of Aidan Graham and Brandon Buenaventura won their first set, defeating Alex Sutton and Parker Green 6-4.
“Lawrence had a great first round, Aidan and Brandon got their doubles win, that was a great first round for them. I think that’s the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen on their faces,” Sindle said. “Lawrence was fighting today, we’ve been working on him being more aggressive and I think he definitely showed that today. Even when he was playing Luke, I think he was playing aggressive.
“Going into the second and third rounds they were happy with how they were playing, and they still played well, I was happy with how they played. Especially since they were bringing a lot of games to deuce, deuce plus one. It was disappointing that we didn’t get the sets, that we didn’t close out, but I’m happy overall.”
There were a few close sets on the afternoon, including Hart’s No. 1 doubles team of Spencer Kline and Sam Fassa defeating Graham and Buenaventura 6-4 in the second round.
Jeremy Killian subbed in to team up with Sutton in the second and third rounds, defeating Saugus’ No. 1 doubles team of Connor Loo and Luke Bannerman 6-4 and beating Saugus’ No. 3 doubles team of Noah Van Norman and Aarya Sharma 6-1.
Hart’s No. 3 doubles team of Jax Liescheidt and Justyn Friedler won all three of their sets, dropping a total of four games, three of which came against Van Norman and Sharma in the first round.
The Indians will travel to Golden Valley next and Saugus will face West Ranch on the road on Thursday, with both matches scheduled for 3 p.m.
“Now that we’re at the halfway point through league, it’s an advantage having seen everyone and we know what we got to work on and I think we’ll continue to keep moving forward in every match that we play,” Sindle said. “I think we’re at a good advantage now. We’ve had a rough outcome so far, but I think we can only improve and build on it.”