In only their second time playing together, juniors John Oh and Otis Lerdanun won their doubles match 8-6 against Father Tolton on a breezy Tuesday afternoon at Liberty Park.
Their first time playing together was Monday. Oh stepped up Monday while Sacred Heart’s No. 1 player is on vacation.
The two admit their first match was rocky.
“We couldn’t get our serves in,” Lerdanun said. “I was like, ‘what happened to me?’”
They said improving their serves, and maintaining a positive outlook, made all the difference Tuesday as the Gremlin’s tennis team defeated Father Tolton 5-4.
“We just make each other smile and tried to keep him up,” Lerdanun said.
“I think his serves motivated me,” Oh said. “He made me become confident.”
Oh went on to win his singles match 8-6.
There’s plenty of friendship to go around on the Sacred Heart tennis team. Head coach Susie Thompson said their strength is in their work ethic and attitude.
“They want to do well,” Thompson said. “What they lack in pure talent they make up for in attitude and heart. I can’t teach that. I can’t coach that. They own it.”
Sacred Heart lost Monday at Clinton 3-6, but won their first match in two seasons last week against Kansas City Lutheran.
Sophomores Takao Omori and Reina Woolery dropped their doubles match, but echoed the notion that team chemistry is high at Sacred Heart.
“I think our friendship, or fellowship is closer,” Omori said.
Woolery won her singles match 8-8 (6), while Brian Sierra won his 8-6. Sierra and Travis Holt won their doubles match 8-1.
The legacy of a late teammate and friend may be strengthening the team bond. Thompson said many on the roster are “playing for” Zach Parsons, a junior at Sacred Heart who died in January.
Lerdanun said he misses his friend.
“Every time I step on a tennis court, I think about him,” Lerdanun said. “I think about him every day. I wish he could watch me play tennis.”
Oh, in his first tennis season, said he almost didn’t sign up. Now, he and Lerdanun laugh in excitement for their senior year.
“Of course,” Oh said about playing tennis next season. “That’s going to be fun. It’s going to be the best season.”
Sacred Heart faces Knob Noster on the road at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2