The Hannibal boys’ tennis team got its season underway with a positive note Tuesday as the Pirates beat North Central Missouri Conference rival Fulton 5-4.
“We did real good,” Hannibal coach Jay Johnson said. “They are a conference team, but they did not have a conference team eligible yet. So, we played them just a top-six match which is a district format. They won our district last year and have four returning players, so we knew it was going to be really tough for us, but we were able to squeak out a win 5-4. That was a nice start for us.”
In singles matches, the Pirates top three players fell 10-2, 10-8, 10-6, putting Hannibal in an 0-3 hole, but the back half of the Pirates lineup was able to right the ship and force a tie as the singles portion of the match came to an end.
In doubles action, the Pirates again lost the first match, but that would be the final loss for Hannibal as the Pirates No. 2 and No. 3 singles teams won the next two matches to tie the match at 4-4 and then win the match in the final doubles match.
Blake Hosely, the Pirates’ No. 4 singles player, beat Fulton’s Phillip Barkho by a 10-4 decision to get Hannibal its first win of the night. The Pirates added another win when Jacob Hammock beat Jared Strough in the No. 5 singles match up. Hammock shutout Strough 10-0 to get the Pirates back within one heading into the final singles match.
With Hannibal needing a win to split the six singles matches, Austin Haynes beat Justin Schneider 10-2 in the No. 6 singles match.
Heading into double play, Hannibal got wins from its No. 2 doubles team, Dhaval Katbamna and Hammock when the two players beat Fulton’s Barkho and Scott Strough 10-7. Hannibal sealed the win with a 10-2 win from No. 3 doubles team Hosley and Haynes who beat Fulton’s Jared Strough and Schneider 10-2.
In junior varsity action, Lijah Harrison beat Zach Heimericks 10-4 and Brad Curl beat Sawyer Young 10-6.
With the win, Hannibal starts the season 1-0. The Pirates will now prepare for their home opener on Thursday against Quincy Notre Dame. After that, Hannibal will play four more games all at home before returning to the road. Of the Pirates’ five matches at home, with the exception of QND, all of them will be against NCMC opponents.
“We have a really tough one,” Johnson said. “Quincy is a real powerhouse this year. They are going to be tough. We are going to really give them a go and make the most of it.”