After Andrew Riley and Wyatt Brown picked up a tiebreaker win to clinch Norwalk's win on back on April 4 in Norwalk, it was Ben Traczek and Sam Vanderpool on Monday at second doubles.
Traczek and Vanderpool topped Clyde's Logan Nicely and David Hohenstein, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to clinch the win for the Truckers, 3-2, in Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division action.
"Anybody that has watched our scores this year knows that we do not always make it easy on ourselves at second doubles," Norwalk coach Chris Higgins said. "Having two seniors really makes a difference, especially there at the end. We have had a lot of matches that were very close, especially at the end of sets."
The Truckers (15-1 overall, 8-0 SBC Lake) are now two ahead of Clyde (13-2, 7-2) in the loss column in the race for the league title.
"Ben and Sam did not come out and play well at the beginning of the day," Higgins said. "The second set, I will give them more of an average grade. In the third set, they decided to wake up and play."
With the deciding third set tied at 4-4, Traczek was broken at love to give Hohenstein a chance to serve the match out. Hohenstein and Nicely picked up the first two points — finishing off a run of seven straight points, but Norwalk was quick to rebound.
Traczek and Vanderpool won the next four points to break back and knot the set again. Then, Vanderpool held serve before the Truckers' duo broke Nicely's serve for the win. All told, Norwalk won 12 of the last 16 points of the match after being two points away from defeat.
"The match was back and forth," Clyde coach Jeff MacFarland said. "Unfortunately, we got caught on the back part at the end there. We were up 5-4 and I was thinking we were going to take care of business, but Norwalk played well."
Norwalk started off the match strong, as Austin Brown took a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Alex Calliet at first singles. Calliet had topped Norwalk's Carson Colahan in the first meeting of the season at No. 2 singles.
"My favorite thing about Austin is that it does not really matter who he plays," Higgins said. "He goes out and he wants to play them one-on-one. It does not matter the stats or how good they play. He has done a good job of just coming out and playing."
Andrew Mozina picked up a nice win for the Truckers at third singles. He took down Ben Hohenstein, 6-3, 6-3.
"Andrew came off the court with a big smile on his face," Higgins said. "I was very happy for him. Anytime you can get a younger player on your team to win a big match, he will remember this one."
The Fliers had wins at second singles and first doubles. In singles, Daniel Stevens defeated Colahan, 6-2, 6-1. At doubles, Jacob Strudthoff and James Dry picked up a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Andrew Riley and Wyatt Brown.
"Daniel Stevens played pretty strong tennis at second singles," MacFarland said. "That was a nice constant today."
The two teams will cross paths again on Thursday when Clyde hosts the SBC Lake individual tournament to decide the all-league teams.
"Lets put it this way — you have two matches that essentially came down to a coin flip," Higgins said. "The first time it came down to a tiebreaker and today was nearly a tiebreaker. The two teams are very even. We just got the best of them twice."
Norwalk is back in action today at Perkins, and also hosts Vermilion on Friday in a league match before wrapping up a busy week at the Fremont doubles tournament. With wins over the Pirates and Sailors, the Truckers can clinch at least a share of the program’s first-ever SBC Lake championship.
Norwalk joined the SBC last season and went 11-3 in league play, losing twice to Clyde by identical 3-2 scores, just like this year. It also lost to Shelby by a 3-2 score last season.
A league title this season would be Norwalk’s seventh in the last decade and the 27th in a 35-year span.