By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Despite an overnight downpour, the Rams tennis team still managed to open the season Monday.
“I really wanted to get it in for a number of reasons because it’s hard to reschedule. Once we start in April, we play about every day,” Mt. Vernon coach Dave Junkins said. “Plus we need a match. We need to get started.”
The Rams dominated Massac County 8-1 in the matchup after sweeping the singles matches in two sets each. Aaron Neibert and Nathan Arnold ripped past each of their opponents only losing one game during four combined sets. Neibert won his match 6-0, 6-0. Arnold was victorious 6-1, 6-0.
“They’re really smart players,” Junkins said. “That’s the key. A lot of good athletes can play tennis, but how you win is you figure out your opponent’s weakness and you take advantage of that.”
At No. 4 singles, Jared Hatton won 6-1, 6-1. Brandon Nabors was a winner in No. 5 singles 6-1, 6-2. Both players are making the transition from junior varsity single to varsity this season. They did have varsity experience last year playing doubles.
“They responded real well,” Junkins said. “They were kind of shaky early, but as the match went on they got more confidence. And it was nice to see at the end they were playing real well.”
Aaron Burge won his match at No. 3 singles 6-3, 6-2. Cody Wilson finished off the singles sweep with a 6-0, 6-1 at No. 6 singles.
Burge and Nabors combined for a 10-4 win at No. 1 doubles. Hatton and Wilson were victorious 10-2 at No. 2 doubles. Mt. Vernon’s only loss came at No. 3 double where Aaiden Ezell and Billy Fields lost 10-7.
Junkins said his lineup isn’t completely finalized yet. During the upcoming break in action, players will continue to compete against each other for their spots.
“With the team we have, everyone is fairly close,” Junkins said. “When they play challenge matches, they’ll be good matches for them to practice in.”
Mt. Vernon is 1-0 and has a lengthy layoff before embarking on a series of road matches. The Rams open the road series with the Triad Tournament on Saturday, April 6.