By the time the final tennis match between the Spartans and Shorewood was done, so was the sun. Under the lights, Shorewood's Frank Liu and Alejandro Uvences defeated Garret Goshorn and Davis Crouch in three sets to complete a 4-3 come-from-behind nonleague win for the Thunderbirds.
The final match of the day -- which took a little more than two hours -- finalized a sweep in all three doubles matches for Shorewood. That, coupled with Eric Berquist's win at No. 4 singles, gave the Thunderbirds enough to win their final match of the regular season.
"What a finish. I don't have any fingernails left," Shorewood head coach Arnie Moreno said. "I chewed them off during that last match."
With a crowd huddled around the fence and the Spartans' band blaring dramatic music in the Stanwood stadium behind them, Liu and Uvences knew by the start of the third set that their duel was going to decide the match. After winning the first set 6-4, they fell to Goshorn and Crouch 4-6 in the second set.
The Shorewood duo jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the third set and seemed to have all the momentum, before Goshorn and Crouch came roaring back with two straight points to make it 5-4. But that's as close as the Spartans would get. Liu and Uvences won the final game, giving them the third set and the Thunderbirds the match.
"I was looking at them and I knew they could handle the pressure," Moreno said of his No. 3 doubles team. "Those were the two best I could have had out on the court. They're calm, cool and collected. They don't let the pressure get to them."
The match pitted the two Wesco 3A champions against each other in the regular season finale. Stanwood (11-1 league, 14-2 overall), the North champions, won the first three completed matches of the day -- Nos. 1 through 3 singles -- to jump out in front. Jonathan Wolf dropped one game on his way to a straight sets win at No. 1 singles -- improving his record to 15-1 -- and Eric Saekow clinched a perfect 16-0 season with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Logan Keebler at No. 2 singles.
"It's pretty surprising," Saekow said of his unblemished mark. "I put a lot of work in over the summer though. I guess it paid off."
Jonathan Spores was the last victorious Spartan at No. 3 singles.
Then the match took a drastic turn, much to the delight of the Thunderbirds.
Cameron McDowell and Stuart Schackle notched the first win for Shorewood in a second-set tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles, and Matt Buswell and Dylan Stephens followed soon after with a 6-1, 7-5 win at No. 2. Awhile later, Shorewood's Eric Berquist got the win at No. 4 singles -- another three-set, marathon match -- to tie the score and set the stage for the exciting finish.
"That's what we've been doing all season," Moreno said. "The guys battled. They've just battled all year."
Shorewood (11-1, 14-2) clinched its second straight Wesco 3A South title last week, despite the fact that it lost 10 seniors from last year's squad that went 16-0.
"We're going to go down fighting," Moreno said. "I can't even tell you how proud I am of these guys."
Spartans' head coach Trudy Abrams was proud of her team as well. It wasn't the first close match of the season for Stanwood, which had to turn the lights on for one other match this season.
"It was a fun match," Abrams said. "We've done this a few times this year. This time it didn't go our way. I was really proud of them."
With the regular season wrapped up, the two teams will now focus on their respective league tournaments. Each school sends two singles players and two doubles teams, with the top four in each advancing to the district tournament.
The players representing Stanwood in the league tournament won't have to travel far. They'll be back on their home court for the league tournament. Wolf, who will be one of the Spartans' singles players in the tournament, is excited to be playing at home.
"It's really nice to play on that home court," said Wolf. "We practice every day on these courts. Plus we have a lot of people who come cheer us on."
And, as many proved on Wednesday, they'll stay until the lights go out.
At Stanwood H.S.
Singles–Jonathan Wolf (St) def. Liam Keebler, 6-0, 6-1; Eric Saekow (St) def. Logan Keebler, 6-2, 6-4; Jonathan Spores (St) def. Jamie Wright, 6-4, 6-1; Eric Berquist (SW) def. Keaton Urling-Ehinger, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-2. Doubles–Cameron McDowell-Stuart Schackle (SW) def. Jack Lund-Kurtis Hushagen, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3); Matt Buswell-Dylan Stephens (SW) def. Arthur Sand-Nick McIntosh, 6-1, 7-5; Frank Liu-Alejandro Uvences (SW) def. Garrett Goshorn-Davis Crouch, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Records–Shorewood 10-2 league, 13-3 overall. Stanwood 11-1, 14-2.
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