As the thunder rumbled and the sky darkened, Max Baker battled his way out of a big hole.
Baker had already sat out one rain delay during singles play against William Chrisman in the Class 2 District 14 boys tennis team tournament opener Monday, and the weather certainly wasn’t getting better. And he also found himself down 5-1 in the third set of the No. 2 singles match, one of the last two left on the Santa Fe Trail Park courts.
“I knew we were doing well in singles, but knowing we were down I was thinking I had to do this for the team,” Baker said. “I have to stay calm.”
Baker stayed calm, and that helped him battle back for a 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 victory over Chrisman’s Adam Hamilton that clinched a 5-3 victory for the Patriots well before the next round of rain. And now Truman, which hadn’t won a dual since its first match of the season, will advance to face No. 1 seed Blue Springs South today in the semifinals.
After dominating Hamilton in the second set, Baker struggled to regain his form after a quick shower doused the courts. It was a short delay, but long enough for him to lose his edge.
“The rains came, and Max had the momentum, and Hamilton was able to reset and he came out focused,” Truman coach Scott Lett said. “Max was able to swing it back. They both gave it all. It was fun to watch.”
Baker’s victory gave Truman four wins in singles, which helped the Patriots overcome an early 2-1 hole after doubles. Truman’s Caleb Allen beat Jordan Twenter 7-5, 6-3 in No. 3 singles, Aaron Muller downed Brandon Kuhlman 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4 and Carson Moon topped Colton Kerr 6-4, 7-5 at No. 6. Cyrus Berridge led the third set of the No. 5 match against Jakob Scott when Baker clinched it.
“Max deserves a ton of credit for that one,” Chrisman coach Jason Grubb said. “I think Adam got mentally flustered a couple of those games and the rain got him off his rhythm.”
Sam Hawley scored Chrisman’s lone singles win when he beat Michael Wagner 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1. Hawley and Hamilton lost to Wagner and Baker 8-3 in No. 1 doubles.
Even after Twenter and Kuhlman took No. 2 and Scott and Sam Foster won No. 3 by identical 8-3 scores, Grubb said the No. 1 loss gave the Patriots an opening.
“The No. 1 doubles team had been winning a ton,” Grubb said. “They’d previously beat their No. 1 team. Our guys didn’t play fundamental and blew some shots.”
Chrisman, which beat Truman 6-3 last March in their only meeting this season, closes team play with a 5-10 record in duals. Truman, which hadn’t won since topping Fort Osage 6-3 on March 19, improves to 2-10.
“We’ve been working hard all season long,” Lett said. “Maybe the wins and losses don’t show it, but the coaches know it. It’s a nice reward for the players.”