Indians and Bulldogs battle out three tiebreakers in match down to the wire

If School of the Osage showed anything in Tuesday night’s home and season opener against Rolla, it was that the Indians were willing to fight.

Osage found itself trailing 2-1 after the doubles round and the stakes were raised an extra level or two as half of the six singles matches, which the Indians were initially losing, would be decided by tiebreakers. Osage managed to pick up two of them, but could not complete the rally in a 5-4 loss to the Bulldogs.

“They are scrappy, kept playing and were always thinking they could win no matter how far they got down,” Osage coach Matthew Fuglsang said of his team. “We were down in all three of those matches and came back and won two so I am pretty proud of them actually.”

The match-deciding contest featured Osage No. 3 singles player Mitchell Turner and he did not go down quietly as a 9-7 tiebreaker was required for Rolla to come away with the win. As tough as the result may have been, Fuglsang said it also served as a good teaching moment and the coach has little doubt that Turner will be able to bounce back.

“We’ll need him this year. I’m sure he’ll come through and win some matches for us too so it will work out in the end,” the coach posited. “He won some for us last year and I’m confident that he’ll be able to bounce back and play well.”

Osage dug itself an early hole as the team of Logan Havner and Hunter Albers were the only duo to pick up a doubles win by a final score of 8-6. Fuglsang that will certainly have to improve.

“We have to get better at doubles and that killed us today,” he said. “Being up 5-1 at No. 3 doubles and losing that, I thought we should have won the No. 1 doubles too.”

Osage began to turn things around in singles play, though, as Naudet won a 9-9 tiebreaker (7-4), Albers won 8-3 and Tony Floyd was also a 9-7 tiebreaking winner.

“We were in every match except one and he (Drew Elley) is a first-year player. The guys we have all played well,” Fuglsang stated. “At No. 1, Grant played a tough kid that kept the ball in play, got everything back and he (Naudet) had not been feeling well, so to battle back and win that was big for his confidence going into the rest of the year. He really needed that match.”

It was Naudet’s first match at the top of the Osage lineup and other players across the lineup have also stepped into new roles. A little more time on the courts and a few more matches should make the adjustments a little more comfortable.

“Logan playing at No. 2 this year is only a sophomore and in his second year of playing,” Fuglsang noted. “He may not feel it right now, but by the end of the year he will be playing like a No. 2 player or a No. 1. All the way down, with most of these guys it is the same.”

Osage (0-1) will be back in action on Friday with a trip to Helias at 4:30 p.m.