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Alma doubles duo 'in sync'

 Alma doubles duo 'in sync' 

 
By Kevin Taylor
Alma Schools
 
AHS Tennis
 
AHS Tennis
 
ALMA - Nathan Gibson isn't as tall as Green Jolly Giant. But it might seem that way every time an opposing doubles player attempts to get something past the 6-foot-6 Alma junior. 
 
"It's a big advantage," Gibson said. "Imagine there's a two-and-a-half-foot net, and then I'm 6-6 with a 6-8 arm span - I can get pretty high. It's pretty hard to get it over (me)." 
 
With Gibson hovering over the net and teammate Drew Battles patrolling the baseline, Alma's No. 1 doubles team has formed a winning formula.
 
"His strengths are he's super tall at the net; nothing can really get past him," Battles said. "My strengths are, I'd say I'm better at the baseline. What he does is the stuff I don't have."
 
Battles and Gibson are teammates on coach Stan Flenor's basketball team as well. And, before you think they're playing tennis for yucks, think again. 
 
The Alma duo will put their 8-0 conference mark on the line today when they face Greenwood. 
 
"I'm not that surprised," Gibson said. "But Drew and I are pretty good together. There are a lot of good schools out there, but we've been better so far."
 
"I'm not surprised we're rolling through it, but I am surprised at how good we are doing," Battles said. "I didn't expect to go 8-and-0 through the first part of the season."
 
The Battles-Gibson connection is more about repetition than anything, Battles said, a senior.
 
"The magic comes from how well we get along together," Battles said. "Everything we do is just in sync - we read each other really well."
 
The pair hit it off long before they were tennis partners. But getting started this fall came with a price. 
 
Battles missed time last month after being quarantined because of COVID-19. 
 
"We officially played together for the second match this year," Battles said. "I missed the first two matches because of COVID. We practiced all summer, so we had that connection."
 
"We know each other pretty well; we've grown up together," Gibson said. "We've always played sports together, so we know how we're going to react in certain situations. 
 
"We make a good team."
 
Gibson played a lot of tennis when he was younger, he said, before devoting more time to basketball. Last year, when he decided to pick up a racket again, he leaned on Battles' encouragement. 
 
"He became my coach, in a way," Gibson said. "He taught me most of what I know. It was really easy after that. Personally, for me, I probably need to work on serving a little bit more
 
"But we're pretty good."