To day’s rematch against Rock Bridge loomed on Hickman’s schedule. It is a match that most of the Kewpies think they can take this time around, after dropping the first one 6-3 in early April.
But Monday afternoon, Hickman had to take care of business against Mexico, winning 8-0 in a rain-shortened match at home.
Coach Jerry Price held usual No. 1 Omeed Latifi out for both singles and doubles, and No. 2 Dan Fine out for singles only. The decision moved players two slots higher than usual and pushed senior Rob Tillman to No. 5 and sophomore Sang Chung to No. 6.
“We wanted to give lower players the chance to play up a little bit,” coach Jerry Price said. “I know we had the opportunity to do that today against Mexico because their team’s not that strong. It’s not so we could rest players, because it wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but we’re trying different combos before districts.”
As if sensing the forecasted rain, the Hickman players sped through their matches, and all but No. 2 junior Cody Hogan won in straight sets. He picked up the win in a tiebreaker 3-6, 6-1, 10-4.
As the matches went on, rain drops began to spatter across the courts, falling from the slate-gray sky. The teams took notice, but kept playing since players were able to keep their footing. No. 2 doubles went quickly with Hogan and freshman Brandon Page almost shutting out Mexico’s No. 2 doubles pairing 8-1.
Almost as soon as they finished, the rain got a little heavier, as the sparse crowd of about 10 huddled tightly beneath two umbrellas. Parts of bodies peeked out from the red and white stripes, and a few players were lined up underneath a heavy blanket.
The rain reached the point where the courts began to shine from the moisture, leading Latifi to ask his brother about the playing conditions.
“Hey Eemaun, see if it’s slippery on the lines yet,” Omeed told his younger brother.
To test it, Eemaun did a little jump stop and said he thought things were fine to go on.
“You know we play Rock Bridge tomorrow, right?” Omeed chided.
“Yeah. We’re fine,” Eemaun retorted before the next point.
Price thought otherwise and called the match. The No. 3 doubles match, to the crowd’s delight, finished 8-2 just as Price called it, eliciting cheers for the No. 3 Hickman team of Tillman and Chung.
Eemaun was a little disappointed coming off the court, and his brother did more to rain on his parade.
“I’m glad common sense took over,” Omeed told the crowd. “No offense, E.”