Playing their fourth match in five days and with much of their singles lineup bumped up a spot in the order, the No. 45 Flagstaff Eagles pushed the No. 26 Lee Williams Volunteers to the brink Saturday afternoon at Thorpe Park.
With three singles matches coming down to a third-set tiebreaker, Flagstaff (3-8) pulled out one of the three as it nearly knocked off Lee Williams (9-3). With Kyle Ater only playing doubles, the Eagles moved up much of their lineup from their typical positions.
While Sam Jensen remained at No. 1, Matthew Morales bumped to No. 2 and Spencer Jensen shifted to No. 3. Grant Palmer, Easten Skinner and Josh Yordy filled out the second half of the singles order for Flagstaff, which opened the day with one win in three doubles matches.
Palmer and Skinner pulled out an 8-3 victory at No. 3 for the Eagles’ first point of the day while Ater and Yordy fought back-and-forth at No. 2. Tied up at 5-5 and 6-6, Lee Williams’ pair pulled out the victory at 8-6.
Flagstaff’s lineup included just one senior in Spencer Jensen, with Skinner and Palmer standing as the only other upperclassmen. Sam Jensen, Ater and Yordy are in their freshmen seasons while Morales is in his second season as a sophomore.
Flagstaff's Sam Jensen serves during his match against the Lee Williams Volunteers Saturday at Thorpe Park.
Skinner came away with a 7-5, 6-3 victory at No. 5, while Yordy took the No. 6 match 6-2, 6-3. Lee Williams took the top court in singles as Sam Jensen fell 6-1, 6-3. Equal at 3-3 outside of the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4, all three matches reached a third set.
Spencer Jensen took his first set convincingly at 6-1, before falling in the second 6-4. The deciding tiebreaker at No. 3 opened with a 2-2 tie and Jensen continued to battle after dropping four straight points. Trailing 7-4, Jensen ended up falling by a final of 10-4.
Flagstaff's Spencer Jensen lunges forward to hit a ball during his match against the Lee Williams Volunteers Saturday afternoon at Thorpe Park.
Morales moved into a third-set tiebreaker as Jensen’s match finished up, having pulled out a 6-4 second-set win after nearly fighting back to win the first. Morales trailed 5-2 in the first before winning three straight to tie it up at 5-5, but Lee Williams’ No. 2 held onto his lead for a 7-5 victory.
Although he won nine of the last 16 games after the 5-2 start, Morales took a quick 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker. Pushing his advantage to 9-4, the sophomore closed out the victory 10-6 leaving the No. 4 match as the decider for the team victory.
Palmer’s match followed a nearly identical script to that of Morales’, as the junior fell 7-5 in the opening set before bouncing back, 6-4, to force the tiebreaker. With his match close throughout the day, Palmer took a 3-1 lead in the third set before the score tied at both five and six.
Flagstaff's Grant Palmer follows through after returning a ball during his match against the Lee Williams Volunteers Saturday at Thorpe Park.
Lee Williams won back-to-back points on serve, with Palmer answering to tie at 8-8 with a pair of wins on serve. However, the serving trend continued as the Volunteers pulled out a pair of points to win 10-8 and take the team victory.
With a pair of matches remaining Monday and Tuesday, the Eagles will play six matches in eight days, accounting for nearly half of their 13-match regular season. Flagstaff will face No. 44 Peoria at home on Monday before finishing its season at No. 47 Desert Edge on Tuesday.