Regardless of the final result, the Truman boys tennis team successfully delivered a message in its season opener.

Regardless of the final result, the Truman boys tennis team successfully delivered a message in its season opener.

Facing a Park Hill team that has traditionally handled the Patriots without much strain, the Patriots battled the Panthers for four hours before falling 6-3 at Santa Fe Trail Park in a match that saw five games go to third sets.

It was a promising start to a week in which the Pats will face three of their toughest opponents without a breather. Because of last week’s rain, Truman follows its opener with matches against Blue Springs South and St. Joseph Central on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Ideally, Truman coach Willis Blinzler said, he’d have his team start with a little slower pace, as was originally planned. But at this point, the Pats are just trying to make the best of the situation.

“We’re looking at it as more of an opportunity,” he said. “Because these are three schools that we have typically lost to in the past. We wanted to show everybody that we can be with anybody this year.”

They definitely did that against Park Hill. As the match started to wind down, the result was already settled as the No. 2 doubles match between Truman’s Mason Short and Zach Felz and the Panthers’ Chris To and Trevon Howerton drew to a close. Blinzler noted that a lot of duos would prefer to pack it in at that point. But not his guys.

“The match is technically over,” Blinzler said. “They’re in their second set. They can lose, but they go to a tiebreak. They could lose and everybody can go home and have extra time. But they gutted it out. I was really proud of those guys.”

Short and Felz did eventually fall – 3-6, 7-6 (9-11) – but they could take solace in their effort.

“It was just very competitive and fun to play,” added Short, who also earned a 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 singles victory over To. “We just kept playing hard and kept playing through the pain and all that.”

Senior Brett Fredenberg, who was playing in his first varsity match, earned Truman’s other singles triumph by besting Noah Higgins-Dunn 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the No. 5 slot. Fredenberg also teamed with Andy Muellman for a 6-1, 6-4 win in No. 3 doubles.

Now Truman will regroup and tangle with the Jaguars. And the Pats are hoping to use the meeting as a barometer of where they stand.

“Our goal, for right now in the season is to win districts,” said Matt Perry, who lost to Mike Jones 7-6, 1-6, 1-6 at No. 1 singles Tuesday. “Blue Springs South is probably our biggest competition. That will kind of be a telling of hopefully what we think the district will look like.”