With a 5-3 loss to Lawrence Park Panthers on Wednesday afternoon in high school tennis, Malvern Black Knights will need some luck if they are to advance to the Toronto south region semi-finals next week.
Only the top-four teams in each division move on to the playoffs, and Malvern is barely holding onto the final spot with 17 points, while Lawrence Park is in first with 31.
Malvern came into the match only one point up on fifth-place Leaside, but the Lancers were taking on bottom dwellers North Toronto Norsemen who have failed to register a single point.
Leaside currently trails Malvern by four but holds the tie-breaker because of its 5-3 victory last week.
Despite the added pressure of competing for a playoff spot, Malvern’s Duncan Tooley was trying to concentrate on his game.
“I wasn’t too nervous, I was getting into it and yelling a bit, getting a little pumped,” he said.
Although nerves weren’t an issue for Tooley and his doubles partner Matthew Hiller, they felt out of sync in the early going of their match against Connor Douglas and Jackson Strike due to a shortened pre-game routine.
“We weren’t really fully warmed up at the beginning and we went down 4-0,” Tooley said. “But then in the end it was 8-3, so we did get three of the last four games. It’s really important to be loose.”
Hiller also felt the lack of preparation hurt his game.
“I just didn’t start playing until the fourth game,” said Hiller. “I was shanking balls and hitting them out, the consistency just wasn’t there.”
Strike and Douglas picked up two points for their team with the win.
In the closest match of the day, Thomas Hunter and Cole Kay-Meltzer fought off a late-game rally by Malvern’s Gills O’Gorman and Josh McCulloch to win 8-6.
Aside from Malvern’s rally, the match was highlighted by a heated exchange between O’Gorman and the Lawrence Park duo after his out-call was questioned.
“It was my call and it was break point, so it was pretty important,” said O’Gorman, of the system that asks players to umpire their own games. “I called it out because I saw it go out … it was my call so I didn’t think he should have questioned my authority.”
Abraham Rogers and Andrew B-K outdueled Justin Wood and Kosta Pavkov 8-2 to pick of three points for the team and its lone win of the day.
If Leaside manages four or more points in its match against North Toronto, it will take on Lawrence Park next Wednesday, a rematch that Douglas and Strike are looking forward to.
“I’d be very excited to play Leaside because we lost to them,” said Douglas. “It was a close game so we’ve got a little it of a rivalry.”