It’s been a bit of a rebuilding year for the Indian River High School boys’ tennis team.
But despite a young and, for the most part, inexperienced lineup, the Indians still finished on a high note, with a win over Seaford and making some noise at the Henlopen Conference championships.
At first singles, junior Mac Smith earned a bye to get him through the first round of the tournament, only to have to face the No. 1 seed and state’s top-ranked player, Milford senior Colt Williamson.
“I just wanted to be able to compete and give him a challenge,” Smith said. “I don’t think many people hit as hard as Colt around here.”
In his third time having to face Williamson this season, Smith said that he saw some improvement, despite falling 6-0, 6-0, and that facing players of that caliber only makes him a better player himself.
“My serve was a lot better today. Coach [Mariano] Woo and I have been working on it, so it helped a little bit.”
At third singles, junior David Clark made it to the second round, with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Polytech’s Jakob Messick, before getting knocked out by Dover’s Harry Cooke.
Seniors Adam Izzo and Brandon Galliher also made it to round No. 2 at first doubles, before getting matched up against the Caesar Rodney duo of Cyrus Shanehsaz and Yash Patel.
Making it the furthest in the tournament for the Indians was junior Patrick Mochiam, who took fourth place in the conference at second singles.
To get there, however, Mochiam battled Lake Forest’s James White for more than two hours in a match that went all the way down to the tiebreaker. Earlier this season, Mochiam had fallen just short against White, in another match that went to extra sets.
“When I was playing against him, I felt like I was playing against myself. It’s just like a wall. It’ll just keep coming back to you,” Mochiam explained of his opponent. “My game plan was to just hit high and deep.”
That game plan eventually worked, with Mochiam earning the win before getting knocked out by CR’s Parker Barton.
The win gave the Indians even more momentum headed into next season, when they’ll return nearly their entire squad, while key players such as Williamson graduate, freeing up the division and the conference.
“We have our three singles players back, and then the returning freshmen who got a lot of tennis under their belt this year,” Smith said. “Coach Woo has definitely helped my game and taught the new guys how to be more relaxed and take the game seriously — it’s promising for next year.”