Osage boys tennis finds its rhythm in win over neighbor Camdenton
With the postseason on the horizon, Osage coach John Baumstark is starting to see some good signs for his team.
Crediting some tough matches on the schedule the past couple of weeks, those tests may play a crucial role in how well his players are prepared for the challenges ahead and it seems the team was prepared and ready to go on the home courts Wednesday night as the Indians secured an 8-1 win over Lake area neighbor Camdenton.
“I think we are kind of hitting our stride. The last two weeks we’ve played some really good teams,” Baumstark noted. “We played a Marshall team who was undefeated, we played a Rolla team who is still undefeated and a Smith-Cotton team who had one loss on the year… We are definitely getting to see really good competition, so, going into districts I think we are confident because we’ve seen good teams and how they play. I don’t think we are going to be surprised about anything when we get into districts and hopefully, later on in the state playoffs.
“I think we are confident and I think we showed that today, the way we played. We are excited to finish the next two weeks on a high note and keep the momentum.”
After winning two of the three doubles matches to start the night, the Indians left little doubt about the rest after sweeping the singles round.
The top doubles team of Drew Elley and Ethan Kucsik battled for a 7-5 overtime win over Camdenton’s Clay Bernhard and Blake Roettgen and the duo of Mark Pankiv and Vladimir Nahapeteyan earned a win by the same margin over Camdenton’s Zach Hunter and Alex Bower. The lone win of the night for the visitors came from the team of Carson Risner and Ryan Medlock as they earned a 6-2 win over Osage’s Asher Adkins and Chris Boyd.
Elley was a 6-1 winner over Roettgen in the top singles match while Pankiv topped Bernhard 6-4, Kucsik beat Bower 6-3, Nahapeteyan won 6-4 over Hunter, Boyd won by the same margin over Medlock and Adkins secured a 6-2 win over Risner for the singles sweep.
Even after winning both of his matches, Nahapeteyan’s first thought was to look for ways he could improve.
“It felt like I definitely could have performed better in my singles match. I felt like I kind of let that go no a little longer than I had to, but at the end of the day I still got the win,” he said. “My doubles partner and I did pretty good. Little slip-ups here and there, but at the end of the day we got another win.”
The sophomore is actually playing his first high school tennis season since the COVID-19 pandemic took away the opportunity to play as a freshman. Overall, Nahapeteyan said it has been a fun experience, especially picking up wins against players he wasn’t expecting to, and Baumstark said that has kind of been the theme as he looks for the program to turn the corner. The Indians may not have won every match, but the program may be gaining steam.
“They are used to what we’ve seen and I was telling them, ‘Guys, we’ve played Smith-Cotton, Rolla and these other good teams. We shouldn’t be scared of anybody,’” the coach remarked. “The final scores may not have showed as a team how close the actual sets and matches were, but I’m proud of the way they battled. We shouldn’t be surprised or afraid of anyone going forward, so, we are excited.”
Osage improved to 4-3 in the regular season and the Indians were scheduled to visit Mexico (5-3) on Thursday before returning back to the home courts to host Lebanon (9-6) on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. It is all about maintaining the momentum.
“Seeing them get more comfortable and veterans like Drew and Ethan, who have played varsity matches before helping the younger guys out, and how Mark is getting more comfortable being the (number) two (player) and playing varsity, they are a great group to be around,” Baumstark said. “Practice is fun every time we get to come out here and play and they are supportive of each other and excited when they do well. They are a great group to have and I’m excited to see what we can do moving forward.”
Camdenton (2-3) was scheduled to host Farmington (6-2) on Thursday and play in the Waynesville Invitational on Friday before playing an Ozark Conference doubleheader on Monday afternoon at West Plains (3-3) while also taking on Waynesville (1-10).
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-346-2132