MOUNT VERNON — A young Mount Vernon tennis team came within inches of its first win of the season on Thursday. The Yellow Jackets battled Olentangy Orange to the final volley before falling, 3-2, at Memorial Park.
“Over our first three matches, we’ve improved greatly,” said Mount Vernon coach Jeff Jarosz. “I really thought we had a chance to get our first victory.”
The Yellow Jackets (0-3) got started off on the right foot when No. 1 singles player John Fleming pounded out a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Tanner Green.
“I felt I played really well,” said Fleming. “The big thing was I stayed calm, kept my head and tried not to overpower everything.”
The junior was able to use a solid serve and good backhand stroke to keep the ball in play against Green.
“I was really happy with my serve and backhand. I had a lot of good serves that kept me in the game,” Fleming said. “My backhand kept me in there, helped me keep the rallies going as long as I could. That made a big difference.”
“John has run into some tough competition so far. It was nice to see him play against some of equal ability,” said Jarosz. “I think he overachieved today, to beat a quality opponent so solidly.
“There was one particular point where he ran and got three different shots and ended up winning the point. It’s points like that that helps you come back from adversity.”
The Jackets also picked up an impressive win at first doubles. Senior Cory Street and freshman Will Teater battled it out with Joseph Lee and Jonathan Ricci for three sets before prevailing, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Jarosz was happy with the victory, but especially proud of the leadership Street showed during the match.
“Cory’s a great leader. He gives guidance in the match. He has a lot of poise, knows exactly what to do at the net and on the court. My hope is the freshmen will grow into players like Cory,” Jarosz said.
The Jackets nearly got a win in second doubles, as freshmen Miles Kahrl and Jake Kight took Matt Pennington and Sam Meyung to three sets before falling, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Mount Vernon actually led 2-1 in the final set before Orange’s duo rattled off the final five points of the match.
“I think the freshmen, in the third set, got a little nervous. They came back in the second set and had nothing to lose and played with ease. But that third set ...,” Jarosz said.
Junior Alex Shillito also pushed his opponent at third singles, falling 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). Max Whitney fell 6-1, 6-3 at second singles for the Jackets.
“To get two wins is definitely a confidence booster,” said Jarosz. “We came out and really executed. We understand we have the ability to win as long as we grow and continue to get better.”
The Jackets are back in action today, traveling to Clear Fork for a 4:30 p.m. match.