GRATERFORD- One of the most important lessons any young player in any sport must learn is how to respond following a disheartening loss. For Perkiomen Valley sophomore Luke Pain, that consisted of going right back to work over the weekend after the Vikings suffered their first setback of the season late last week in order to improve his game for the next match and the remainder of the year.
That extra effort paid off as he won two straight sets — in fact, did not lose a single game — at No. 1 singles in Tuesday afternoon's Pioneer Athletic Conference tennis match as part of a 7-0 decision over visiting Boyertown. Yashveer Singh and Shaan Kewalramani also won in straight sets at singles. So did the doubles teams of Alex Dove and Evan Newbill, Jordan Pavlow and Dan Kerchner, Sanjay Kalidindi and Maulin Patel, and Brad Dickerman and Mike Venezia.
"I think we were all really disappointed after the match,' Pain said concerning last Thursday's 5-2 setback to defending PAC-10 champion Spring-Ford in which he dropped a 6-1, 6-2 match to Patrick Pascual, the third-place finisher in last year's PAC-10 singles tournament. "And I was disappointed that I lost. Over the weekend I trained hard. I came out for this match really wanting to win and get ready for Thursday, our next big match against Methacton. We took it as a learning curve.'
Much of Pain's hard work has gone toward improving his serve.
"It's really been increasing since last year,' he said. "If I can hold my serve, then I just have to break serve one or two times and I can win the match.'
Pain is certainly not the only young player on the team as the Vikings (4-1, 7-1) sent a junior (Singh) out onto the court at second singles, another sophomore (Kewalramani) at third singles, and a freshman and a sophomore among the doubles players.
"We were a very, very young team last year,' said Perk Valley coach Chris Ho, whose team lost just 11 games on the afternoon. "We're still a young team. Next year will be the year because we're getting everyone back except three seniors.'
"We lost a lot of seniors last year,' Pain added. "We only have two or three this year, but they're really good at pulling us together. We have great team spirit. Just a great team environment and we're bonding really well.'
Boyertown (1-4, 1-4) also has a young team and has struggled so far, now having played and lost against three of the top five teams in the league standings. But the Bears are maintaining a good attitude, according to assistant coach Donna Laskosky.
"They (the Vikings) have lots of depth,' she said. "They have lots of young players. We've got our hands full. We're a young team, too. We lost a lot. Guys have had to move up and play places they haven't before. It's the cycle of tennis. But the guys like to play and they're having fun doing it.'
"It's been a tough season, but we're all having fun,' said Huber, a junior playing at third singles. "It's a great group of guys. It's fun.'
"Focus on what's important,' added Herring, a junior No. 1 singles player who teamed with Huber at fourth doubles last year. "Getting better ... improving yourself.'