Prep tennis: Eskymos overcome cold, wind, Braves

GLADSTONE – There haven’t been many opportunities for the Escanaba Eskymos and Gladstone Braves to play tennis outdoors this spring.

They got a chance to meet at Pfotenhauer Park on Monday, however, as Esky gained a 5-3 victory in its first outdoor appearance this season.

“I thought we competed well in every flight,” said Esky coach Jim Hansen. “We did a lot of good things and saw flashes of good tennis. We’re fighting a little bit of inconsistency right now due to the lack of outdoor practices.”

Esky won 3-of-4 doubles matches, including No. 3 in which Alec Slaga and Cam Beversluis rallied past Dean Herioux and Austin Servant 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

“We saw a big improvement by Dean and Austin from last week (in a 7-0 season-opening loss to Westwood),” said Gladstone coach Dan Williams. “They played very well. It’s sure great to see how much they improved from last Wednesday. This is very encouraging.”

Another three-set match took place in No. 3 singles on this cloudy, chilly and windy day, in which Gladstone’s Ross Miron rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) triumph over Tom Prica.

“No. 3 singles was a fun match to watch,” said Williams. “These guys are very well matched with each other. Nobody had any momentum because it kept shifting back and forth. You really had to think about how you were going to hit the ball because the wind kept shifting direction. This was a great meet. I feel like we’ve progressed a lot since our match with Westwood.”

Prica held a 5-3 lead in the deciding set. Miron, however, earned the next two points to pull even at 5. The two players then traded points before Miron won the tie-breaker 7-3.

The Braves also got a win at No. 2 singles in which Pete Weyers topped Sean Berhow 6-2, 6-2.

“I felt I couldn’t use my normal shot with the wind,” Weyers said, noting the Braves already have three meets to make up. “Both of us struggled with it. It’s hard to play when it’s cold and windy. But you can’t get down on yourself. You have to stay positive. Yet, It feels good to get on the court. It’s always exciting to play Esky. It’s a great match-up.

“I’ve always been relying on my serve because it’s my strong suit. Only, I couldn’t use it to my full potential today. I always find it easier to hit the ball into the wind. I can use my full stroke and the ball doesn’t carry too far.”

While Hansen was pleased with the overall play by the Eskymos, he’s also well aware of the areas where they need to improve.

“We need to control some things better, like our positioning and strategy,” he said. “We can’t control the weather and our opponents. There are a lot of good teams in our (Great Northern) conference. Although, I think it will be more wide-open than it has been in several years.”

Both teams resume Thursday with Esky visiting Iron Mountain and Gladstone hosting Kingsford.