Despite some hard-fought sets, Saugus boys tennis dropped Thursday’s match to Royal, 14-4, at Saugus High School.
The Saugus singles players did the heavy lifting for the team, procuring all four of the Centurions’ points.
“The singles players all played extremely well,” said Saugus head coach Bailey Sindle. “Each match was super competitive. Singles was definitely our stronger side today. I just hope they keep it up next week with our last preseason match, then going into league too.”
Andrew Belcher snagged two wins for Saugus. He defeated Peyton Coe 6-1 and Brandon Houng 6-2. In both sets, Belcher played tough. He typically would jump out ahead of his opponent before stealing a close game.
“It was a tough match,” Belcher said. “They’re pretty good but we pulled out a few matches.”
Despite a closer score in his second set, Belcher actually performed much better than in his first. He struggled with faults in his first set against Coe with the ball usually slapping the top of the net. However, when he faced Houng, he got into his groove and his serves hit the mark.
“The second game I was able to focus more on my serve,” Belcher said.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Belcher, though. In both sets, he would jump out to a 3-0 lead and struggle in the fourth game, both times falling to a 40-love deficit. However, he would refuse to drop a game scoreless. He would always claw his way back but couldn’t manage to get over the deficit.
“It was just after you get so much momentum, then they win a game, you kind of lose all of your momentum,” Belcher said.
Belcher sat out for his third set due to non-specific arm pain. Ralph Pascual subbed in for Belcher but dropped the set 6-0.
Freshman Noah Fituci was another player that had a great day for the Centurions. He won one set against Rohan Rattan, 6-4. However, it wasn’t the amount of points he got for Saugus, but the amount of effort he put in that made for a good day.
Fituci went up against Coe, Royal’s No. 1 singles player, and took the set down to the wire. Fituci and Coe traded games back and forth until they reached a 6-6 tie which forced a game 13 tiebreaker.
“He played extremely well all day,” Sindle said. “His first set was a little rough, but in the second set he kicked up a notch. Finishing off with a tiebreaker, its already hard enough to do a tiebreaker, let alone after you’ve already played two matches.”
Coe eventually took the win over Fituci, 7-6, by winning the final game 7-5.
“It feels pretty good. I think I can improve a lot more and hopefully I can do better in the next couple years,” Fituci said. “I played pretty good, it’s just I made some pretty bad footwork mistakes.”
Where the Centurions struggled the most was on the doubles courts. All three Saugus doubles teams were swept by Royal, giving the Highlanders nine points, a loss hard to recover from.
“We need to work on communication within the doubles teams themselves,” Sindle said. “Working out more about court placement and strategies within each match. They have the strokes; they know how to hit the ball. It’s about figuring out where to move and when to do what.”
League play for boys tennis is right around the corner. However, Saugus has one more chance to get some work in before league start when it hosts St. Bonaventure on Tuesday.