STERLING – Newman's Brady Reuter had just lost the first set of his No. 2 singles match, and Comets boys tennis coach Ann Propheter had a look on her face that told Reuter he had to play better.
"I saw my coach and she was like, 'What are you doing?' " Reuter said. "My parents came, too, so I didn't want to let anyone down. I just tried to pick myself up and not get discouraged."
What happened next was the best tennis the senior has played all season. He battled Sterling's Jacobs Reynolds, and intense humidity on one of the hottest days of the season, to win in three sets, 1-6, 6-0, 6-2.
It was Reuter's first singles match win of his 1-year career, and it helped the Comets to a 5-1 victory over host Sterling on Monday afternoon.
He improved his singles record to 1-2, and possibly earned himself a spot on a singles court come the conference and sectional meets in the coming weeks after impressing his coach.
"He was the one all season where I was able to shove into spots," Propheter said. "He's played doubles with three or four different people and that's where I thought he would end up because he's really good at the net.
"He's a hard worker and he is in great shape, so he can play those long singles matches and has a definite advantage."
Reuter's endurance was on display during the three-set match – the longest match of the meet – as he held his form together and played strong throughout. Reynolds was visibly tired and both had beads of sweat escaping pores at a rapid pace.
But Reuter has dealt with the heat before, and it is why Propheter thinks so highly of the first-year player. He has played hockey since he was 5 years old, and still plays in Dixon and DeKalb whenever time allows, so he is used to intense heat under all of the pads.
"It's a lot hotter in that hockey gear than it was today," Reuter said. "[Reynolds] was getting tired, and we played a third set so that worked in my favor."
Reuter's previous two singles matches ended in straight-set losses, but he has learned from his opponents on how to approach the matches.
"I'm usually playing doubles, so I sometimes forget which lines to use," he said. "But I'm getting used to it."
After Monday's win, Propheter and the Comets believe they have nearly all of the doubles pairings and singles positions figured out for postseason play. They swept the doubles portion, highlighted by the top pair of J.P. Neisewander and Andrew Schmitt winning in straight sets.
Jack Nitz earned the only win for the Golden Warriors, which came at No. 1 singles. He defeated the Comets' Connor Knack in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0.
For Nitz, the win was a confidence booster. The sophomore has said it has been an exhausting season because he has such high expectations for himself and has let his emotions take over, generally for the worse.
The focus of the season has been trying to raise his mental toughness to reach his physical abilities. To do that, he has been playing tennis every chance he gets, sometimes playing for 5 hours each day.
"It's like an addiction, I play all the time," he said. "I have lost a lot of matches this year because I've shown emotion, and it has gone to my head and it has messed up my game."
When he practices, he sets up an automatic ball returner and works on different shots until the balls run out, before loading it again, making sure to keep his emotions in check. If all goes to plan, he hopes to be both mentally, and physically, ready to make a deep postseason run.
"I'm getting more comfortable, and it keeps getting easier," Nitz said. "I'm training so hard because I want to be ranked, and I want to be able to compete with the higher level players."
Star of the meet: Jack Nitz, Sterling, earned Golden Warrios lone win at No. 1 singles in straight sets.
Key performers: K.C. Knack, Newman, 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 3 singles; Brady Reuter, Newman, won first singles match of season, 1-6, 6-0, 6-2.
Up next: Sterling at United Township, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday; St. Bede at Newman, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.