Ozark tennis seniors Blake Sarrazin and Matt Fry were staring at yet another loss to Nixa.
The two had never experienced an OHS victory against the Eagles in their high school careers, and Thursday's singles session didn’t give them much hope.
PHOTOS: OZARK VS. NIXA TENNIS
Nixa had just won four of the dual’s six singles matches. Only a lone doubles victory was need to clinch an Eagles’ victory.
Sarrazin, Fry and the Tigers had a comeback to remember. Ozark swept the three doubles matches to edge Nixa 5-4 on the Eagles’ home courts.
“We knew everyone else was ahead, and I looked over there several times, I just couldn’t get it in my head that ‘We have to win this to win the whole (dual),’” Fry said. “I just tried to not let it get in my head and I tried to motivate Blake as much as possible because we both get down on ourselves all the time. We were supportive of ourselves, we had the crowd on our side and it made for a great match.
“We were hitting shots that we couldn’t believe.”
Ozark was leading in the other two doubles matches. However, Sarrazin and Fry were trailing 6-3 to Nixa’s Spencer Hamilton and Zach Gardner. Hamilton was a member of a district-winning doubles team a year ago.
“I think that win at No. 1 doubles was the biggest accomplishment of all because that’s a pretty strong team,” said Ozark assistant coach Mark McBain, who was filling in for head coach Greg Hannah. “They came back from 3-6 down. As I was watching it unfold, I was feeling more confidence – ‘Maybe we can win at second and third doubles.’
“But that’s a tall order to win at first doubles. Then, all of a sudden, it got suspenseful when they closed the gap and then pulled ahead. That was pretty amazing.”
Sarrazin and Fry rallied to make it 7-6, then broke Hamilton and Gardner in the final set.
“We took it one point, one game at a time,” Fry said. “We never said, ‘Well, we have to win three more games; we need to win this game right here.' Especially when we broke them, it was the greatest feeling.”
Ozark also got doubles victories from Sam Killion/Jon McBain, and the duo of Zach Smith/Landon Swearngen.
“Sam Killion would probably have to get my game ball, so to say,” coach McBain said. “He had the biggest margin of victory in singles. He just played a really smart, consistent game.”
Sarrazin said the victory is an encouraging sign for Ozark in the early part of the season.
“I played (Hamilton) last year and he’s a really good doubles player,” Sarrazin said. “It was good to actually beat him. It gives up hopes for (Central Ozark Conference) and districts, where we’re probably going to see him again.”
Nixa opened the action by winning in the 1, 3, 5 and 6 singles slots.
“You always feel good when you win the majority of singles,” said Nixa coach Slade Snowden. “You can forget that you still have to be consistent with every shot even if you have some leeway. (Ozark) gained some momentum and kept it up.”
Ozark 5, Nixa 4
No. 1 Spencer Hamilton (N) def. Blake Sarrazin (O), 8-5
No. 2 Sam Killion (O) def. Will Eck (N), 8-1
No. 3 Zach Gardner (N) def. Matt Fry (O), 8-4
No. 4 Zach Smith (O) def. Zach Flint (N), 8-3
No. 5 Garrett Bacon (N) def. Jon McBain (O), 8-5
No. 6 Joey Miller (N) def. Landon Swearngin (O), 8-2
No. 1 Sarrazin/Fry def. Hamilton/Gardner, 8-6
No. 2 Killion/McBain def. Eck/Flint, 8-5
No. 3 Smith/Swearngin def. Bacon/Miller, 8-4