MIFFLINTOWN - The Juniata tennis team battled the weather and the Clearfield Bisons on Tuesday and managed to overcome both to take the match 5-2 and improve their record in the Mountain League.
Although the rain managed to hold out, the blistering wind and cloudy skies changed the atmosphere as most of the players from both teams were in sweats and high socks.
Isaac Eck looked relaxed as he wore a red fleece and grey sweats, but he might have been too relaxed as his opponent, Ian Bookman, gave him fits throughout their match. Although Eck was in full control throughout the match, he was visibly frustrated in his performance more than once and coach Alan Musselman could see it as well.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY?KREITZER
Juniata’s Logan Aurand, left, goes up for a shot as Isaac Eck backs him up in their doubles match against Clearfield Tuesday in Mifflintown. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com.
"I think for Isaac, he was not as focused as he normally is," Musselman said. "I think he took this match for granted and was not at his best, and still won 6-1, 6-0. His opponent was getting to everything and I was very impressed at his play.
"The first time we played Clearfield, he was their No. 3 and won his match and won it well, but now he's playing No.1 and I thought he played much better than when he played at No. 3."
Despite Eck's issues in the match he had no problem running Bookman all over the court. Eck eventually found his game and was able to get his points on deep forehands and slick backhands toward the net. Musselman was proud that Eck was able to find himself.
Juniata hosts Carson Long Thursday
"Isaac did well on his ground strokes, but his net play was not as it should have been and he just wasn't focused on it, but after he was reminded to focus he came back well," Musselman said.
In the No. 2 matchup, Logan Aurand came away with 6-1, 6-1 victory over Corey Maines, who gave Aurand some trouble with a powerful serve, but Aurand overcame that by keeping his returns close to the net where Maines wasn't interested in moving at all. Musselman also said that Maines wasn't the swiftest of foot.
"I think he was just not particularly mobile and Logan found a way to take advantage of that. He's also playing better in every match this he's played in this year," Musselman said. "He's run into some tough competition in singles, especially against teams like Central Mountain that have a lot of depth, but he's getting to be a decent tennis player."
Aurand won the first set easily and dominated the second set as he was able to handle Maines' serve as the match wore on using his array of dropshots and his mobility to chase down balls and keep a game going. Mussleman is excited about the improvement he's shown from last season.
"Last year Aurand was playing at No. 7 on this team and this year he's playing at No. 2 and doing very well and that's a sign of how much he's improved from one year to the next," he said.
The Indians' other singles win was by Lucas Wright, who defeated Ben Panehianco by a score of 6-1, 6-2. Clearfield's wins included Kunal Patel, who earned a hard-fought, three-set victory over Bradley Lipka. Patel lost the first set 3-6, but came back to win the final two sets 6-4 and 6-2 to get the win. Kerry Maines defeated Luis Pacheco 6-1, 6-1 for the Bisons' other victory.
The Indians won both doubles matches easily as Eck and Aurand took on Bookman and Maines, winning 10-4. In the second doubles match Wright and Pacheco beat Gabe Ford and Vince Owens 8-1.
Heading into the last few matches of the season and into districts and beyond, Musselman is excited about his team's prospects.
"I see everybody coming along very well. Luis is improving - he lost his match today, but he was playing their former No. 1," Musselman said. "He played a good match though, and is getting better. Logan, Isaac and Luis are going to be the foundation for the team in district team play and they'll take the three singles spots.
"What's going to be different for us is that in districts there are no repeat matches, so that means were going to have our No. 4, 5, 6 and 7 play our doubles matches and that'll be tough for us in district competition."
With the win the Indians improve to 7-2, 6-2 in the Mountain League. Eck and Aurand will compete in the District 6 Class AA tournament on Thursday at Altoona. The team's next match will be May 1 as they'll host Carson Long.