By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ALEXANDRIA — In high school tennis matches, any 3-2 victory usually comes down to one big or several little turning points.
In the first round of the Madison County Tourney here Wednesday, it turned out to be more of the former and less of the latter.
At No. 1 singles, Pendleton Heights' Ben Augsberger defeated Alexandria's Mason Ward 6-3 in the first set. His triumph over second-set trouble and Ward led the Arabians to a 3-2 win over the Tigers.
PH will travel to Elwood to face the Panthers in the semifinal round of the winner's bracket today at 5 p.m.
For Augsberger, the second set against Ward didn't start well at all. He trailed 4-1 and 5-2. "I wasn't being as aggressive as I had been in the first set," said the Pendleton senior. "It was humid and the racket started slipping in my hand." But he got a grip on the racket and the match by winning the next two games.
"When it went from 5-2 to 5-4, the whole match turned around," said Alexandria coach Matt DeVault of the No. 1 singles match. "In the second set (Ward) played as sharp a set as I've seen him play. He just couldn't finish it out."
Augsberger also had in mind that he wanted to reverse a season trend. "I have been playing a lot of three-setters," he said. "I didn't want to go three sets." He won the final set 7-5 by taking five straight games.
The first two matches off the courts were both in doubles.
At No. 1 doubles, Mitch Stanley and Sam McKinney defeated the Alexandria pairing of Layton Carroll and Isaac Collis and at No. 2, the PH duo of Noah Fawcett and J.D. Thompson turned back Matt Hensley and Logan Clark. Both match scores were 6-3, 6-4.
The Tigers' points came at No. 2 and No. 3 singles. At No. 2, Andy Rowe defeated Zach Howe 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 and at No. 3 singles Josh Deutsch topped Evan Crooks 7-6 (4), 6-1.
"We are almost where we want to be," said DeVault. "It was a good match. Both doubles were close. We won two of the singles matches, but we've just got to find another point. We battled them for the county last year and it's just a tough draw for us."
On the other side, PH coach Royce Hammel was happy but not satisfied.
"A win is a win and we move on," said Hammel. "Our doubles teams came through without needing a three-setter. I tell my players you don't have to hit big shots to win. Sometimes you need to play smarter. Sometimes that big shot isn't a good play right now, but it might be a couple of strokes later."
In another county match, Elwood trimmed Madison-Grant 3-2, getting wins at No. 1 singles from Dakin Updegraff, No. 2 singles from Austin Poor and at No. 1 doubles from the team of Derek Wiand and Jordan Arehart. The Argylls host the Tigers today at 5 p.m./