Perkins Pirates top Norwalk Truckers to extend hot start

SPECIAL TO THE MORNING JOURNAL Perkins’ Manickam Manickam pulls back his racket for a shot earlier this season.

Having gone 10-0 in conference play last season, a deep Perkins tennis team had every reason to be ambitious about repeating as Sandusky Bay Conference champions in 2013. The feat the Pirates pulled off earlier this week could only have raised their confidence level to even greater heights.

Tuesday Perkins came out on top in a highly-contested 3-2 match against a potent Norwalk club that, at 10-0, also went undefeated in conference action last season en route to its 24th Northern Ohio League title in 29 years.

In third singles, the Pirates’ Gabe Murray made quick work of Travis Moran, blanking him, 6-0, 6-0. Perkins received little more resistance at first doubles as Zach Grealy and Cody Dominick toppled D.J. Steffanni and Grayson Conney, 6-1, 6-2.

“They finished their matches fast and that gave us the foundation to the victory,” Perkins coach Joe Taylor Jr. explained.

The groundwork laid by the first two matches became crucial for the Pirates as the day wore on. Perkins two-time All-SBC honoree Manickam Manickam dropped the first singles match against First Team All-NOL awardee Trevor Bowers, 3-6, 6-7 (5) and in second singles district qualifier Josh Rohrbacher fell to First Team All-NOL honoree Harry Love, 1-6, 3-6.

While the Pirates two best players lost in straight set, Bowers and Love — both district qualifiers last season — are arguably the best one-two punch in the area.

Taylor said that displaying improved hitting patterns and extending points against Bowers has given Manickam an added edge as he looks to return to the state tournament, a goal he expressed to his coach at the outset of the season.

“The last time they played it wasn’t even that close,” Taylor said. “This is really going to improve his confidence as we get to districts before state.”

Perkins match with the Truckers came down to the last and most competitive contest of the day — second doubles. After winning the first set handily, Brian Kurtz and Austin Faber survived an outstanding comeback by the Trucker’s tandem of Collin Bickerstaff and Reid Schaffer to win, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5), and move the Pirates to a 2-0 record.

“It really gives us good momentum,” Taylor said. “Norwalk will be one of the tougher teams this year so being able to fight off some of the adversity and get the win gives our team a lot of mental toughness moving forward.”

Dynamic duo

The Pirates knocked off Norwalk, 3-2, but no one will be pointing fingers at Trevor Bowers and Harry Love. Playing first and second singles respectively for the Truckers, neither player has dropped a set this season, with each boasting a 5-0 individual record.

Freshman phenom

Ranked first in Northeastern Ohio in the 14-year-old age group and No. 3 among competitors 16 and under, Avon coach Art Gibbs sang Nico Mostardi’s praises coming into the season. The freshman took over first singles responsibilities for Avon immediately and has proven himself worthy of coach’s confidence thus far. Mostardi has put together an unblemished 6-0 record, losing only lost five games in that stretch.


Last Updated: 4/11/2013 11:41:40 PM EST

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