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Boys Tennis: Woodbury wins by a point over Park in 3AA sectionals

Woodbury's No. 1 singles player Corbin Johnson eyes the tennis ball as he prepares for a return against Park's Logan Ross. Johnson would lose to Ross, but Woodbury would defeat Park in the first round of the 3AA boys tennis sectionals on May 15, 2018. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Park's No. 2 singles player Carter Ness tries to get in position for the serve at Woodbury's Ronak Basani. Ness would earn the victory in the individual match, but Park would fall to Woodbury in the 3AA boys tennis sectionals on May 15, 2018. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Woodbury head coach Brandon Heath talks to the Royals boys tennis team before the first round of the 3AA sectionals against Park on May 15, 2018. The Royals would earn the 4-3 victory over the Wolfpack. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

WOODBURY—Corbin Johnson and Logan Ross were excited about today, but also dreading today.

It was the 3AA boys tennis sectionals and the first round included a rival match. It was between the No. 6-seed Woodbury Royals and the No. 11-seed Park Wolfpack.

Johnson and Ross have had this match circled since the release of the brackets last week. It was circled on each of their calendars because it was more than just a match for the two of them.

It's a deep friendship.

"We've been playing back on the junior team in middle school, so there's an old rivalry there," Johnson said. "I was pretty hyped for the day. In all honesty, I was expecting to win because I beat him last year. I'm a little bummed to take the loss today."

Ross might have taken the individual win at No. 1 singles against Johnson, but Woodbury took the team win with a 4-3 final coming down to the last couple of singles matches to pull out the victory.

The match started with a clean sweep from Woodbury's doubles as the Royals took a 3-0 lead early in the match. Then, Park came swinging back with two straight victories from No. 2 singles Carter Ness as well as Ross.

With a 3-2 lead, the Royals looked to sophomore Aman Koul to earn that fourth and final point to advance in sectionals. After a 6-2 win in the first set, Koul was able to fight at the end of the second set earning a 7-6 victory and capturing the first round win for Woodbury.

"I lost to Park last year and I was pretty upset about it, so getting a win here and knowing how much I've grown is nice," Koul said. "It feels nice [getting the win against Park]. We get to play more."

The Royals will definitely be playing more this season with another sectionals match on Thursday against the No. 3-seed Hastings Raiders. Hastings is a familiar team for Woodbury as the Royals played the Raiders early in the season and lost 5-2. The match doesn't reflect much in Woodbury's head coach Brandon Heath's eyes because both teams didn't have all their players and most of the players were rusty.

Townsend told his team after the win today that sectionals will have no easy opponents as 3AA is stacked with talent, so the competition will only get tougher to head to state.

Johnson, Koul and the entire Woodbury team is ready for the challenge and are looking forward to playing a tough Raiders team.

"Our section is deep, there's no easy win," Townsend said. "We've had a couple really close losses [to Park] the past couple of years, so it's nice to be on the right end of it."

It might be the end of the Wolfpack's season, but head coach Tony Townsend is happy with the growth of his players and how tough they played not only in this match, but every match.

Townsend said the team has grown substantially since the beginning of the season and it's due to the confidence and skill development of each player. He's proud of the players and the amount of work they put into this tennis season

"I think early in the season we had so many highs and lows," Townsend said. "And now we're trying to figure out on how to sustain that high level of tennis."

Townsend wasn't the only Park member to reflect on the season. Ross, as the No. 1 singles player and leader of the Wolfpack team, was happy with the team's performance today and throughout the season as well as his own individual performance.

"As a team, we had a pretty good season winning quite a few matches," Ross said. "I think this is one of the best seasons I've had [as an individual]."

This won't be the last time Park and Woodbury see each other because the two teams are competing against each other once again tomorrow to make up a rainout earlier in the season.

The opportunity to play again is making the Johnson-Ross rivalry even tougher because Ross said he's not giving the win away.

After Ross earned the victory and shook hands with Johnson, there was a couple seconds of silence until Johnson said a phrase that will fire up both players tomorrow.

"I'm taking it tomorrow."

Park vs. Woodbury Results

Singles:

No. 1: Logan Ross (Park) defeats Corbin Johnson (Woodbury) 6-4, 6-1

No. 2: Carter Ness (Park) defeats Ronak Basani (Woodbury) 6-4, 6-3

No. 3: Jacob Kuemmel (Park) defeats Bogdan Vizoli (Woodbury) 6-4, 6-4

No. 4: Aman Koul (Woodbury) defeats Giacomo Zuliani (Park) 6-2, 7-6

Doubles:

No. 1: Zach Haugstad / Sanketh Kodimala (Woodbury) defeats Samuel Gallas / Jaden Tufenk (Park) 7-5, 6-1

No. 2: Dylan Pham / Riley Schwartzhoff (Woodbury) defeats Hunter Lo / Luke Rislove (Park) 6-3, 6-2

No. 3: Xander Hill / Nate Saffold (Woodbury) defeats Ethan Gonko / Zachary Stangl (Park) 6-0, 6-1

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