Tom Litscher (Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial H.S.) won in straight sets for Valparaiso on Friday afternoon, but it was not enough as Toledo defeated the Crusaders 6-1 in the season opener for the Brown and Gold at the Courts of Northwest Indiana.
Litscher, who played mainly played sixth singles for Valpo last season, posted a 7-5, 6-4 victory over the Rockets’ Gursher Harika at four singles. Litscher, a sophomore, was playing at the highest spot in the lineup he had ever competed at collegiately.
“Tommy played the match I always thought he could,” Valpo head coach Jim Daugherty said. “He was very mentally tough today.”
Freshman Kyle Stump (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth H.S.) also had a solid showing at the sixth spot, falling in a super tie-break for the third set. He rallied from a set down to force the tie-break before falling 6-2, 4-6, 10-5 to Leonardo Henriques.
Toledo (3-3) earned four straight sets victories in the other matches. Jared Miller defeated Alex Lau (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson Senior H.S.) 6-1, 6-0 at the top of the lineup. Lau, a junior, had never played higher than third singles prior to Friday.
Chris Clark was a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Mike Shideler (Valparaiso, Ind./Munster H.S.) at second singles while Knot Likitkumchorn defeated Mike Wagner (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) 6-3, 6-0 at the third spot. Valpo’s Dan Brunette (Carmel, Ind./Lutheran H.S. of Indianapolis) dropped a 6-3, 6-1 decision to Jayson Miller.
“We did a good job of battling when we were down,” Daugherty said. “If we continue to stay in the match regardless of the score, matches will fall our way.”
The Rockets opened the match sweeping doubles play. Likitkumchorn and Jared Miller downed Shideler and Wagner 8-4 at number one while Sven Burus and Clark defeated Litscher and Lau by the same score. Harika and Jayson Miller topped Stump and Brunette 8-1.
Valparaiso (0-1) will return to the courts on Saturday morning as the Crusaders face Ball State. First serve is set for 10 a.m. CST in Muncie, Ind.