The Cheney High boys’ tennis team capped off their strongest regular season in years with a couple of 4-3 Great Northern League wins over Clarkston, May 5 and Pullman, May 7 and a regular season league title — the Blackhawks’ first district championship in 20 years, according to head coach Jesse Erickson.
“There was a bit of a drought because teams like Clarkston have been so dominant over the years,” Erickson said. “All of my guys played much better this time than when they first played Clarkston,”
Ryan Axtell, No. 2 singles, defeated the Bantam’s Colby Savage (6-4, 7-5) in a close match.
“Axtell has been playing really well lately,” Erickson said. “He’s been attacking with great serves.”
Luke Huguenin and Jordan Kauwe, No. 2 doubles, defeated Clarkston’s James Foust and Ian Best (6-2, 7-5). Ben Sanchez and Brandon Foster, No. 3 doubles, came back to defeat the Bantams’ Tanner Carton and Leighton McFarland (4-6, 6-4, 6-2).
With Cheney and Clarkston tied 3-3, the final team point came down to the No. 4 singles match. JT Gould came back from a one-game deficit to defeat the Bantams’ Taylor Howard (4-6, 6-2, 7-6) in a super tiebreaker to give Cheney the win.
“It really came down to the wire in that third set,” Erickson said. It was incredible to watch JT (Gould) play like that.”
The Blackhawks carried their momentum from the Clarkston win into the match against the Greyhounds. Ryan Smedley, No. 1 singles, defeated Pullman’s Matt Pru (6-1, 6-4). Axtell won his match against the Greyhounds’ Peter Chen (6-2, 6-3) and Gould defeated Pullman’s Duncan Mitchell (6-4, 6-0).
And like the dual two days before, the match came down to No. 3 doubles where Huguenin and Kauwe defeated Pullman’s Sean Berrington and Charles Pazeshki (6-2, 7-6).
“Under tight conditions, Luke and Jordan played clutch,” Erickson said. “It’s been a miracle season for us, everything just went right. To be league champs is awesome.”
The Blackhawks ended their regular season with a 7-1 league record, 12-2 overall. Erickson was also named the GNL boys tennis Coach of the Year.
Cheney will travel to Washington State University to compete in the GNL Districts, May 15-16. Erickson said the team will have challenge matches during practice to determine seeding for districts. The Blackhawks took fourth in last year’s district championships.