Pam Pack breeze by Southwest Edgecombe in doubleheader

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, March 26, 2014




The Washington boys tennis team persevered through bone-chilling cold and 20-25 mph wind gusts Wednesday afternoon, shutting out Southwest Edgecombe in both contests, 9-0 in the first and 6-0 in the second.

“It was harsh for them to play in these conditions,” said head coach Miranda Whitney. “They’ve had to play tough matches like this before this season. Their experience in these conditions definitely gave them an advantage.”

With all other Washington sports being called off due field conditions, the Pam Pack tennis team battled through the unforgiving elements, while making the necessary adjustments to solidify another decisive victory and remain undefeated.

Due to the doubleheader, each match was played using pro-sets, which are usually reserved for doubles. For singles, the first player to reach eight sets ultimately wins the match, and each Pam Pack contender had virtually no trouble reaching that mark in the quickest time possible.

Junior standout Connor Wilkins, who has yet to drop a single set this season, continued his remarkable run against Southwest Edgecombe’s Michael Pansher. Resorting to his kick serve and adjusting to the wind, Washington’s top tennis player was able to find the lines for beautifully placed aces throughout the match. The sporadic wind gusts held the rallies to just three or four hits per point, as Wilkins cruised to an 8-0 victory over his opponent. The win improves his match record to 13-0 on the season, while preserving his perfect set record at 18-0.

Wilkins’ doubles partner, sophomore Holt McKeithan, had little trouble adjusting his game to fit the unusually cold and windy late-March conditions. Like his counterpart, McKeithan kept the rallies to just three or four shots per point, and hit an array of crafty slices that counteracted the wind, keeping Southwest Edgecombe’s Seongman Song constantly on the run. McKeithan solidified another win for the Pam Pack, shutting out his opponent, 8-0, and improving his match record to 12-1.

The lone senior on the squad, Washington’s Luke Ainsworth, made quick work of Southwest Edgecombe’s Cal Segadraca with an 8-0 victory. In fact, sophomore Eric Crozier and freshmen Zack Pagnani and Ben McKeithan all managed to shut down their opponents in the first match, 8-0. In doubles, Wilkins and Holt McKeithan and Ainsworth and Pagnani emerged victorious with 6-0 wins, respectively, while the young duo of Crozier and Ben McKeithan dropped the only game for the Pam Pack in the first match, defeating their opponents 6-1.

The second contest mirrored that of the first for Washington. Ainsworth, Crozier and Pagnani all cruised to easy 8-0 wins. On the day, Ainsworth improved his season singles record to 10-4, Crozier amended his to 9-4 and Pagnani continued to stay hot by upgrading to 10-2.

Freshman Mac Skillen competed in just his fourth match of the season against Southwest Edgecombe’s David Minchew, but managed to emulate his teammate’s success with an 8-1 win. Skillen now holds a 3-1 record overall.

Junior Dhruv Patel stepped onto the court for the first time this season, and was unfazed by the elements, knocking off Southwest Edgecombe’s Will Alvarez, 8-0, to chalk up his first win.

One of the longest and most competitive matches of the day was between sophomore Weston Brown and Southwest Edgecombe’s Khalil Davis. Both competitors struggled with the airstream initially, but Brown settled down after some well-placed drop shots at the net. Davis never adjusted, and Brown picked up his first win of the season with an 8-2 victory.

“Playing in the spring is difficult with the weather,” said Whitney. “If we can get to the point where this team can practice regularly, the sky is the limit.”

With the wins, Washington improves to 8-0 (6-0 Eastern Plains). The Pam Pack will hit the road for a mid-season out-of-conference matchup against J.H. Rose on Wednesday.