By Gary R. Rasberry
COLDWATER -- At the start of the tennis matches with Lima Central Catholic on Thursday, the Celina tennis team had a lot of optimism that the 0-5 start to the season would be ending soon.
The Thunderbirds took two of three singles matches and had to wait out the doubles matches to decide the outcome.
Both NetDog doubles teams won the opening sets of their matches, only to see LCC come back and win the final two sets, giving Celina a 1-4 loss at the Community Park courts in Coldwater and dropping the NetDogs to 0-6 on the season.
Coach Jan Morrison, looking to find the programs first win in over a year while also having to deal with nagging injuries to her players, mixed up the lineup on Thursday.
Regular doubles player Brent Householder moved to second singles, where he lost to Alex French 0-6 and 1-6 but the big change came in third singles. Alex Ball had some pain and looked to be unable to play in second doubles. With no subs, Morrison got Bell to play third singles and had Neil Hoyng partner up with Ethan Westgerdes.
Ball fought through the aches and battled Andrew Kidd before falling 3-6 and 4-6. Morrison had plenty of praise for Ball for battling.
"Alex did a nice job at third singles. That was his first singles match," said Morrison. "That shows he's a competitor. He hung in there and made (Kidd) hit winners. He didn't make many unforced errors at all. He showed he can play anywhere. He can be a singles player if that's the direction we need him to go."
Brad Krick gave Celina its only win of the day, taking the first singles win in matching 6-4 sets over Adam Swick.
With LCC leading 2-1 and needing just one win to capture the match victory, the crowd headed to the doubles areas to watch.
In first doubles, Celina's Matt Stetler and Kyle Everman won the opening set 6-4 over the LCC team of David Kidd and Brian Joseph. The T-Bird pair came back to win the second set 6-4, forcing a third and deciding set. Kidd and Joseph cruised from there to take the match with a 6-2 win in the third set, icing the match for LCC.
The second doubles match wrapped up the day. Hoyng and Westgerdes won the opening set, 7-5, over Josh McLean and Nate McCullough, but the LCC pair rallied back to take the second 6-2. McLean and McCullough led 5-2 in the third set, but Hoyng and Westgerdes came back to cut it to 6-5 and had the serve. A double fault by Celina ended the match with a 7-5 win for LCC.
"Both doubles teams had chances," said Morrison. "It's one of those you would like to do over, but we'll come back tomorrow and do better."
Celina will look to end the winless streak, not only for overall matches but in the Western Buckeye League, when Kenton comes to Coldwater for a 4:30 p.m. start today. Celina then travels to the Lima Invitational on Saturday at the Collett Street Courts.