OTTAWA — Veteran Ottawa High School boys tennis coach Matt Gross felt like the Pirates didn't perform like they're capable of during their match last Thursday against Morris.
He was feeling better about his team after Saturday.
While the Pirates lost two of their three matches in the annual OHS Invitational, they placed third, as Gross thought. Metamora won the six-school event, with Rock Island Alleman finishing runner-up.
"It's sort of better than what I expected in some ways," said Gross of the Pirates' showing. "We had beaten (Rockford) Boylan a couple weeks ago, so I was hoping we'd do the same today. Actually, we beat them even more solidly today. Then against Alleman, we did better than I expected; we got two wins. Metamora, you know, they beat us 5-0, but that doubles match (featuring the newly formed tandem of star singles player Jack Marvel and Nate Meyer) was probably the best match we've had against anybody from Metamora in a long time. Max Vargas, it was great to see him pick up a couple wins today. I thought Declan (McGettigan) and Andrew (Hancock) had a nice day at two doubles.
"We had 12 kids play today. I just love the attitudes of so many of our kids ... that team player aspect."
Marvel, a two-time state qualifier in singles, and primary doubles player Meyer were paired together for the first time Saturday. They split two matches: beating Alleman's Jesse Dyer and Sean Gelski (6-2, 6-2) before losing to the tough Metamora duo of Ethan Greenfield and Grant Gutwein, 4-6, 6-7 (2).
"It was a really refreshing experience, especially because Jack and I are really good friends," Meyer said, "and we've always talked about, like joking around, if we should play doubles together like how well we could do. I think we played pretty solid tennis."
"I think we played pretty well, especially for playing for the first time," Marvel said. "Alleman, I thought we played really well. Metamora — they're a really good team — we didn't play our best tennis. But I think, overall, it was a good day today."
"I think they did fantastic," Gross said. "The team they lost to ... they could be seeded at the state tournament. So considering that Nate and Jack were right there with them, that's good. And considering the fact that I haven't been able to work with them in doubles at all as far as Jack is concerned ... I mean, what you saw today was just pure natural ability. So I feel like there's only one way to go, and that's up.
"Sometimes the stars don't always align, but for these two, they could," continued Gross, who added that he isn't sure if Marvel and Meyer will play together for the postseason.
Ottawa blanked Boylan 5-0. Posting singles wins were Marvel at No. 1 (7-5, 6-1 over D.J. Trenhaile) and Vargas at No. 2 (7-5, 6-4 over A. Klein). Notching doubles victories were Meyer and Logan Olszewski at No. 1 (6-0, 6-0 over Joseph Cyrs and Zach Peterson), Hancock and McGettigan at No. 2 (6-0, 6-1 over David Consuelos and Daniel Renteria), and Tyler Olesen and Jonah Sharp at No. 3 (6-0, 6-4 over Joe Clay and Joe Cox).
Ottawa was edged 3-2 by Alleman. Besides Marvel and Meyer's victory at No. 1 doubles, Vargas posted a win at No. 2 singles (6-3, 6-2 over Daniel Smith).
"I told (the kids) at the end of our match at Morris," Gross said, "I was a little bummed out, because we just didn't play up to our potential I felt, or as I expected. Today, I felt better about (the effort), because everybody had a little bit of success and everybody got to play. There were some good things. I was pleased."