Sometimes it’s just easier to play with a partner.
That is the consensus feeling of Twin Lakes freshman Luke Deno and his coach, Jennifer Ousley. It’s borne well for the Indians, as Deno and doubles partner Hayden Hubbard moved to 7-2 as a tandem after a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Benton Central on Thursday.
Deno and Hubbard were first off the court as Twin Lakes swept the Bison, 5-0, for its second win — and team sweep — in two days.
The Indians (7-4) beat Carroll, 5-0, on Wednesday.
“Me and Deno seemed to click from early on. It was just the best decision for the team,” Hubbard said. “We were at a tournament, and she just decided to switch things up. We started playing really good, getting points on really good teams.”
Added Deno, “As the first couple matches went by, it got better and I thought the switch was better for the team.”
Hubbard, a sophomore, was teamed with classmate Reece Arthur as the season began. It was a continuation of a duo that spent time together last year as freshmen. Both Arthur and Hubbard and Deno, at No. 3 singles, went 1-1 to open the year when Ousley decided to switch Arthur and Deno’s spots before the second match of the Peru Invitational on Aug. 24.
Arthur is 6-3 at No. 3 after Thursday’s 6-4, 6-3 win. Deno and Hubbard gave up just three total games in 24 hours, grabbing a 6-0, 6-2 win against Carroll on Wednesday.
“They’re going to be a nice doubles team, tough to beat,” coach Ousley said. “Luke is definitely a better doubles player than singles player. I saw him in two matches at singles, and he just really is a doubles player, to me.
“He’s playing the role I want him to play … and it’s great for a freshman to start out with a partner sometimes, have direction from somebody else as well.”
Their wins were among 10 Twin Lakes accrued in the two-day timespan.
Hubbard joked to Indians’ No. 1 doubles team of Clayton Bridwell and Carson Gutwein “we got off the court faster” after Bridwell and Gutwein followed a few minutes later with a 6-2, 6-0 win. Twin Lakes’ three singles players — Ryan Nickerson (6-1, 6-0), Arthur and Jadden Ousley (6-0, 7-6 (7-2)) — each came off the court afterward.
Jadden Ousley led the Bison’s Alex Thurston 5-2 in the second set before falling behind 6-5 and rallying to force the second-set tiebreaker.
“I know their No. 1 is a really good player — he 6-0, 6-0’d my number one last year, so it was nice to see that Jadden could put that away,” coach Ousley said.
Bridwell and Gutwein won 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday. In singles play, Arthur, Nickerson and Jadden Ousley lost a combined eight games in two-set sweeps.
Coach Ousley also praised Nickerson’s effort the past two days, and throughout the season.
“I’m really excited about Ryan,” she said. “He’s one that doesn’t really require a lot of coaching — he’s pretty good, consistent, a natural tennis player. Hopefully that continues.”