ANDERSON — Sometimes in sports, the only way to calculate the heart of an athlete is to put that athlete in a back-to-the-wall, winner-take-all position.
That's exactly where Alexandria's No. 2 singles player Andy Rowe found himself on Thursday afternoon in the sectional semifinal match against Anderson.
When Rowe's match was completed, Alexandria had a 3-2 victory and a berth in today's championship against the Lapel Bulldogs.
Rowe lost 6-2 in the opening set of his match against the Indians' Nick Whitaker. Alexandria, at that point, was well on its way to a pair of doubles victories but still needed a singles win to advance.
"Anderson moved a different player to No. 3 singles (Dax Swanson) from when we played them the first time," said Alex coach Matt DeVault. "We won at No. 3 singles the first time we played." But Swanson topped the Tigers' Logan Clark 7-5, 7-5 on Thursday.
"We lost at No. 1 and No. 2 singles the first time," said DeVault. If that held true again on this night, the Tigers would be finished as a team this year.
Rowe had other ideas.
"I needed to battle back," said Rowe. "He (Whitaker) was in control. I had to calm myself down. I switched from topspin to underspin and that helped me."
Rowe needed to hold serve at 5-6 in the second set to force a tie-breaker and he did that. Then he won the tie-breaker 7-4.
The third set was tightly contested. But once again the key serve fell to Rowe. He was serving for not only his match for the entire team ahead 5-4. He again was able to hold and it gave the Tigers a chance to play for the title today.
"I felt confident serving at 5-4," said Rowe. "Then when I got up 40-30, I thought I could pull it off."