There was great drama at High Point on Sunday morning as the Unicorns and Hurricanes battled for the fourth time this season, with a trip to Nationals on the line. The Unicorns were without perhaps their best player, Olivier Le Coz, who was back in France. They'd handled his absence well all weekend, with Gary Chen and Raul Paniagua filling in well in singles.
The three doubles lines finished first, with Thang Pham and Byron Hailey winning quickly. Hunter Emmott and Collin Hodge won a competitive match at line one, and Chen and Kevin Nguyen pulled out line 3 doubles in three for the Unicorns.
Despite the most benign conditions I've seen at Sectionals over the last 20 years or so, cramps played a role in the two singles matches. In both line one and line two, the seemingly fitter guy was victimized. Teenager Biola Kuku's conditioning was tested by grizzled veteran Shishir Mohan, who has a way of extending rallies. The long weekend and hard hitting of Evan Fontenot may have worn down Guage Krask, who fought on gamely after collapsing in pain.
Both singles went to third set breakers almost simultaneously, and the fortunes of both teams ebbed and flowed. Krask was out to a good sized lead (7-3?) and Kuku and Mohan were seemingly always within a point or two of each other. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep track of both courts. Krask may have had a couple of match points. At one point, I think it was 10-10 on one court and 8-8 on the other. This paragraph was a long-winded way of saying: It could have gone either way.
As it turned out, both Fontenot and Kuku won their match points almost at the same time, and the Hurricanes won a 4-1 victory that was much closer than that.
This makes three trips to Nationals for Freeman (and yours truly, record-setting benchwarmer!) in the last four years, truly a record without equal in these (or any?) parts.