Ryan McKinnon, playing at second singles, turned in one of the gutsiest performances in recent memory by a Viking tennis player to give the Winthrop High boys tennis team an exciting 3-2 triumph over Salem Tuesday afternoon.
Ryan’s match against his Salem foe lasted for three hours and with all of the other matches having concluded, all eyes were on their court, as the players on both teams knew that the outcome of the match would be decided between McKinnon and his Salem counterpart.
After dropping the first set 4-6, Ryan battled back to win the second set, 6-3. Both players went at each other fiercely in the third set, eventually forcing matters to a deadlock of 6-6 and setting the stage for a dramatic tiebreaker, which is a race to seven points, though needing to win by two. The rivals continued the back and forth battle, going to 6-6 in the tie break. But McKinnon won the next point, creating a match point situation in his favor.
“The entire match came down to this one tie break, and it was neck and neck,” said WHS head coach Barbara Hoffmann. “But Ryan finally hit a great shot which his opponent hit long and wide, winning the match for us. It was intense, and Ryan played a great game showing tremendous stamina.”
Although the other four matches on the day were not as close as the second singles contest, they nonetheless were hard fought battles, with three of them going to third sets. Jake Rand dropped his match at first singles, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, but Tom Lund evened the count at 1-1 with a victory at third singles, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 6-0. “That was a great last set,” noted Hoffmann. “Tom just really took control and won it.”
Jake McKinnon and Luke Hodgkins then lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, at first doubles, but the second doubles duo of Alex Patnod and Mike Psomos won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, to even the match once again, thus setting the stage for Ryan McKinnon’s heroics.
“It’s almost unheard of to have four of the five matches go to three sets,” said Hoffmann afterwards. “I’m really proud of the way the team hung in there and gave it their all.”