FAIRBORN — Mei Lin Kuttila’s tennis game is the kind of stuff that leads stronger opponents to break their rackets in frustration.
The senior Finnish exchange student is good at hitting virtually everything back, and right when her opponent feels they can attack the net, she’s equally adept at bombing a nice forehand lob to put them back on the defensive.
Kuttila rallied to defeat Yellow Springs’ hard hitting Ian Sherk in three sets to earn the Fairborn Skyhawks a 3-2 win over the visiting Bulldogs. She lost the first set 3-6, but then rallied to claim second singles set wins of 6-4, 6-2.
The Skyhawks (2-9) got a third singles win from sophomore Caleb Smith and a second doubles win from the Nghi Nguyen-Silas Smith duo to earn the team’s second win of the season.
For visiting Yellow Springs, the Bulldogs got two dominating wins. Junior Forrest Rowe claimed a 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles while the senior-sophomore tandem of Peter Day and Tyler Linkhart won 6-1, 6-0 at first doubles.
“Mei Lin is more accustomed to playing indoor tennis in Finland, but she’s making the adjustment nicely for us,” Fairborn Coach Doug Coy said. “Yes, that’s right. Finland. We have quite an international team. We have a Vietnamese player, we have a kid from The Philippines, Indonesia, and our No. 1 singles player (Brandon Schmidt) was born over in Europe.
“This is my third year coaching here. And it’s probably the youngest group I’ve coached since I’ve been here. Of the 12 players we have, just four of them are seniors. I’m very excited about that. It’s been a different challenge. The last couple years, we had seniors who played hard, but didn’t have a lot of experience. Now, I have a lot of eager new underclassmen. Sometimes, that can get frustrating. But I see them all improving since this season began. And the best part is that I know most of them will be coming back (next season). I’ve already seen them grow.”
The Fairborn players swarmed Kutilla after the match in celebration, as she left the court. The 3-2 team win snaps a seven-match losing streak that saw the last six matches of the streak end in 0-5 outcomes.
The Skyhawks are back on the Fairborn Community Park tennis courts Thursday, April 26, and the following Friday, when they’ll host Greenon and West Carrollton respectively in 4 p.m. contests.
Despite the narrow loss, Yellow Springs coach Stacy Knemeyer remained upbeat about her team’s performance.
“We have a young team, so there’s a lot of players who are new to the lineup and some that are new to tennis,” she said. “They’re growing and learning with each match that we play. They’re very upbeat, and they work hard at improving and working at their game. They have a great attitude.”
The Bulldogs are now 1-7 this season. They will host Metro Buckeye Conference foe Legacy Christian Academy at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the Antioch College tennis courts in Yellow Springs for their next match.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.