Though it had been a hard-fought battle to get to that point, Bellingham’s Logan Schilder and Nate Pearsall could probably already feel the medals dangling from their necks.
All they needed was one point — one ace, one long rally that went their way, one squibber off the net, even one unforced error — and the Red Raiders duo would be crowned the Class 2A Boys’ Tennis Northwest District doubles champions, and with it secure a trip to this spring’s state tournament. And they had not one, but four chances to get the job done.
But Shorecrest’s Daniel Wacker and Nick North simply refused to yield that singular point.
Wacker and North battled all the way back from a 6-2 deficit in a third-set tie-breaker to even things up before ultimately claiming the title with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (10) win on Friday, Oct. 25, at the Bellingham Tennis Club. The loss was the first of the year for Schilder and Pearsall in the 17 matches they have played together.
“We were thinking, ‘Don’t get ahead of ourselves,’” Pearsall said of Bellingham’s lead in the tie-breaker. “We’ve done it (come back) before, so we know it’s possible. Props for them for making it happen.”
In all, Wacker and North staved off championship point five times before surging ahead 8-7. Bellingham came back to even things at 8, but Shorecrest took a nice rally to go up 9-8, before Pearsall double faulted on his serve, ending the match.
It was the front end of a Shorecrest district sweep in the Highlanders’ first year playing in the 2A tournament, as Nishaant Limaye cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Sehome’s Brady Anderson in the singles final.
“He’s a really good player,” Anderson said of Limaye. “He’s a tournament player, which means he has a lot of experience playing in tournaments, and I think that definitely gives him an edge. He played really well.”
Exceedingly well when you consider he was playing with a bad back.
Because of the injury, Limaye did not attempt an overhand serve in the match, instead putting the ball in play with what amounted to a forehand stroke. The benefit was he was able to put a tremendous amount of spin on the ball.
“It definitely threw me off a little and took me longer to adjust to than I expected,” Anderson said. “My return is one of the better parts of my game — it’s how I try to win a lot of points.”
With that ability limited, Anderson had to attempt to beat Limaye in other ways, but the Highlander was equal to the task with his tremendous reach and a bag full of varying shots. The results was the first 11 games going Limaye’s way before Anderson solved the serve and got on the board with a break.
While Limaye’s serves was spot on, Schilder struggled with his early, as Shorecrest managed to break his first three serves, including twice in the first set.
“Early on, I wasn’t hitting it high enough,” the 6-foot-11 Schilder said. “Everything I’ve learned to do, I wasn’t doing. I figured it out at the end. ... I just focused on my serve and made sure I didn’t take any off.”
Once he did midway through the second set, the Red Raiders came roaring back.
The third was relatively even. Bellingham took a break to go up 3-2, but Shorecrest immediately broke back, and each side held serve the rest of the way to force the tie-breaker.
With the score tied 2-2, Bellingham reeled off four straight points, highlighted by a beautiful drop shot from Pearsall to make it 5-2, before Wacker’s double fault put them on the verge of the title.
The comeback started slowly with a Wacker shot that landed just inside the line. Wacker then hit a shot that Schilder guessed wrong on, before Schilder returned into the net to make it 6-5. Another nice rally win evened things up before Persall slammed home a winner to put the Red Raiders back up 7-6.
But Schilder’s double fault evened the score and served as foreshadowing for what ultimately be the match’s final point.
“They played some really good points,” Schilder said. “I know I missed some routine shots we can definitely make. It turns around really quickly if you do that.”
Schilder and Pearsall drop into the second-place match and will face Squalicum’s Drew Segren and Kevin Smiley at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Tennis Club. The winner will be guaranteed a spot to state, while the loser will have to wait until April to see how many seeds the district will get to state.
“We want to play like there are only two going,” Bellingham coach Steve Chronister said.
Segren and Smiley advanced through the consolation bracket with wins over Lynden’s Dakota Davis and Ben Mulder and Sehome’s Darren Ma and Reece Gilbert on Friday
Anderson will face teammate Max Shmotolokha, who advanced with consolation wins over Bellingham’s Connor Thompson and Charlie Carmichael on Friday, in the singles second-place match, also at 12:15 p.m.
CLASS 2A NORTHWEST DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Friday at Bellingham Tennis Club
NOTE: Consolation scores not available.