Freshman lacrosse player Ben Miner (second from right), who covers the tennis beat for the Octagon, joined the team for one match on April 26.

Freshman lacrosse player Ben Miner (second from right), who covers the tennis beat for the Octagon, joined the team for one match on April 26. That team included sophomore Zihao Sui, junior Christian Van Vleck, sophomores Lily Brown and Nico Burns, senior Johann Dias, Miner and Bennett Sackheim, with whom Miner played a boys’ doubles match. (Photo used by permission of James Nelson)

“Hey, Ben, can you play in the tennis match today?”

This question coach Matt Vargo asked me accurately describes athletics at Country Day.

Because we’re not as athletically oriented as Jesuit or most public schools (and a lot smaller), we can add and drop kids on our teams very easily.

On April 26 the tennis team had a match against Bradshaw Christian that decided whether or not the Cavs would go to team playoffs.

Since I had free period last, I decided to skip lacrosse practice and agreed to play in a doubles match.

But there was one problem: I needed a partner.

So I looked around the quad and yelled, “Anybody want to play in a doubles tournament?”

Freshman Benett Sackheim heard my cry for help and walked over.

After checking if he could skip his last-period history class, Sackheim, a fellow lacrosse player, was ready to play.

We took off in the school van without uniforms, jackets or shoes, but luckily senior Johann Dias brought all the necessities for playing as we started warming up.

The seven SCDS teams needed to combine for at least five wins, the minimum needed to win a match.

The first win was Dias’s boys’ singles match. He won easily, 6-0, 6-0.

One down, four to go.

Next up was girls’ doubles. Freshmen Jacqueline Chao and Allison Zhang lost, 10-1.

Then juniors Christian Van Vleck and Emil Erickson won their boys’ doubles match, 10-8.

Two down, three to go.

Then sophomore Nico Burns won his singles match, 6-0, 6-0.

Next up was girls’ singles for sophomores Lily Brown and Zihao Sui. Brown lost, 6-4, 6-3, but Sui won 6-4, 6-2.

That meant Sackheim and I were the only remaining team. We had to win to secure the playoff spot.

We flipped a coin to see who served first. Bradshaw did.

“Thank god!” Sackheim exclaimed. “I’m horrible at serving.”

Bradshaw served.

“Bang,” I yelled as I hit a shot that resulted in our first point.

Sackheim and I celebrated every point we won.

Around the halfway mark, we were up 5-1, and I thought we had this in the bag.

But then it was our turn to serve again.

We lost that game, 40-15, scoring only one point.

“We can still win,” I said. “Don’t worry we’ll be fine.”

But it wasn’t until we won the seventh game that we started to feel confident.

Their coach was frantically talking strategy, while our coach Jamie Nelson, Burns and Erickson were cracking jokes about my playing style.

“No pressure,” Erickson said. “But if you lose this game, we all lose.”

The score was 9-4. We needed one more game to win.

After our serve, they hit wide.

That accurately sums up our strategy for the whole match:  Serve it, get it in, hope they hit it out.

That was the only way two lacrosse players knew how to play tennis.

And those two lacrosse players just helped send the tennis team to the playoffs on Monday, May 2, at Del Hi high school.

—By Ben Miner

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