Osage boys tennis falls short in battle on the courts with Helias Catholic

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Osage's Vladimir Nahapeteyan looks to return a ball in a singles match against Helias Catholic on March 26 in Osage Beach.

Osage boys tennis coach John Baumstark was looking for a good test early in the season schedule and the Indians found one hosting Helias Catholic Friday afternoon. 

Facing the team that ended Osage’s season two years ago in the district semifinals before the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, the home team put up a better fight but ultimately came up short in a 6-3 defeat. 

“I think as a team we all battled. We were all in matches and Helias is a great team,” said Baumstark who is finally getting to lead his program on the courts after the pandemic interrupted his first season in charge. “I told the guys that I love we get to play them our second match of the season because we get to see how good teams play. So, we are not going to be surprised when we go up against other teams down the road and in district time. We are not going to be surprised by talent we see because they (Helias) are a really good team from one to six (players in the varsity lineup).” 

The Indians trailed 2-1 early after the doubles round where the duo of Ethan Kucsik and Vladimir Nahapeteyan fell 6-2 and the team of Chris Boyd and Asher Adkins fell 6-1, but the top doubles team of Drew Elley and Mark Pankiv battled to a 7-5 tie-breaking win. 

Needing to win four of the six matches in the singles round, Osage managed to pick up two of them as both Nahapeteyan and Kucsik earned 6-4 wins. Ellen lost his match 6-2 at the top of Osage’s lineup while Pankiv fell 6-0 and both Boyd and Adkins lost 6-2. 

“I thought all in all, even though we came away with a loss, we grew a lot. Vlad got a win in singles and Ethan carried us a little bit getting a win in singles, too.” Baumstark noted. 

“It was nice to see some of our younger guys grow and play really well,” the coach added, noting the junior varsity got some valuable experience as well. 

The Indians fell to 1-1 after sweeping what Baumstark noted as a good Boonville team 9-0 in the season opener on Monday. It may not have been the result the program was looking for on Friday, but Baumstark is a believer in the idea that more can potentially be learned from a defeat than a win. One of the biggest lessons from Friday may be the need to make opponents move on the court. 

“When you volley back and forth with guys and don’t really make them move, it is really hard to beat good teams like that. You have to get them to move around on the court, move their feet and use their backhand and things like that,” the coach stated. “I think we are going to grow from playing good competition like this and throughout the year. So, it will help us down the road.” 

As that lesson and others are learned as the season goes on, one thing the team can certainly take advantage of from the start is the fact that some of the players were putting in work in the offseason after not even getting to play at all about a year ago due to the pandemic. 

“A majority of them were practicing in the winter. It was easy for me because I could come in and we have some leaders on our team who have not just picked up a racket at the end of basketball season,” Baumstark stated. “We have a lot of soccer players, so when soccer season ended during the fall a lot of those guys picked up a racket and started playing. I think that really showed on Monday and showed tonight, that we are kind of one step ahead and on the right path of where we’re supposed to be during the season.” 

Up next for Osage is the first road trip at Fulton on Tuesday. After what the program, and many others in the spring experienced last year, Baumstark will just be grateful for each match his program gets to play in 2021 and on, moving forward. 

“It is a blessing. All the guys don’t take it for granted anymore,” he said. “After what happened last year and some of our seniors not getting a chance to play their senior year really hurt. So, I think now kids come with a sense of urgency to practice because they never know what might happen. They are having fun with the game, I think, and falling in love with why they came out and started playing again.”

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132