A four-year old
Romanian boy borrowed his grandpa’s wooden racket and a tennis career was
He just didn’t know
it would develop somewhere far, far away.
Not long after that
first time on the court, Fabio Haiduc, his mom and step sister left the
southeastern European country to join his father in the United States.
Young Fabio’s game,
not to mention his equipment, improved, as he began honing his play through
lessons and United States Tennis Association competition, earning the No. 2
singles spot on a strong Chesterton team as a freshman. With the one
position open this season, Haiduc moved up to the top spot, where he’s more
than held his own for a Trojans squad that’s managed to keep a good thing
going despite the departure of 12 seniors that included five starters and
Chesterton coach Tom Bour said after Tuesday’s 3-2 Duneland Athletic
Conference thriller with LaPorte at Kesling Park. “I’m happy for the guys.
Fabio and Troy Feller are the only ones who played varsity. It’s pride. The
goal this year was to win back the conference.”
The Trojans (8-1,
5-0) stayed on track to do so, but just barely, needing a 7-5 third-set win
by Haiduc over Quentin Spears to escape with the win.
“That was fun,”
Bour said. “That’s what high school tennis is all about. (LaPorte coach) Don
(Varda) and I get along great. The boys are competitive, but they all get
With the other four
courts all determined in two sets, all eyes were on Haiduc and Spears, who
split sets, 6-4 to Spears and 6-0 to Haiduc.
“For the team, I
haven’t really played a three-set match because I usually finish so fast or
I lose to them fast,” Haiduc said. “I’m not used to everyone around me
cheering. I tried to ignore it as best I could.”
Haiduc kept Spears
at arm’s length the whole set, closing out the victory and the match with a
forehand passing shot as Spears approached the net, after which he was
swarmed by his teammates.
“I hit a short ball
and he just killed it right at me,” Haiduc said. “I managed to hit it from
the bottom, he just lobbed it back and I was like, I have to win it on this
one. I think I played through (the pressure) pretty well. I was happy I won
because it took so long. That’s never happened where everyone just mobbed
patience throughout the whole decisive set and while Haiduc didn’t
necessarily heed the advice all the way, he got the job done.
“Coach Matt (Adams)
and I were back here watching, saying he doesn’t have this situation very
often, he’s either smoking someone or getting smoked,” said Bour, who has
worked with Haiduc both at the former Northwest Athletic Club and now at the
Courts of Indiana. “What I liked about his third set was he got up early.
What we kept telling him was, keep making him chase you. The biggest
adjustment we made was he was just going for too much too early. We told him
just stay in the point, kind of work the point. He was a little more patient
down the stretch. He’s hard to get a bead on. There’s no emotion. I was
telling coach Matt, we got a couple fist pumps out of him. That was nice. We
were very happy he was able to pull it out.”
Playing an adjusted
lineup with usual No. 3 singles player Ethan Wilmsen at two doubles, Varda
liked his chances on those two courts. It was a matter of finding a point in
singles, but Drake Redman and Feller made short work of Brock Schultz (6-0,
6-2) and Graham Siefker (6-0, 6-0).
"We knew Chesterton
was great at singles,” Varda said. “I felt like we had an advantage at
doubles. They’ve been strong all year. My hope was we’d be competitive at
one and three. The last time we played, it went down to the wire, three
sets, but (Feller) played extremely well. He’s the ultimate three. He’s not
hitting any balls out. I kind of liked our lineup. Ethan, a freshman, with a
seasoned senior (Austin Ake). The lineup kind of happened by accident, but
it gave us good opportunities on each court. Fabio’s a good player. Quentin
took him to the limit. I’m happy he battled and gave us a chance to beat the
best team in the conference.”
Carson Stalbaum and
Liam Wolf downed John Powell and Brock Redman 6-3, 7-6, at one, with Ake and
Wilmsen dispatching John Petro and David Archbald 6-3, 6-3, at two to even