Southmont started its quest to win a boy’s tennis sectional for the first time since 1991 with a win over Parke Heritage in the IHSAA Sectional opener on Wednesday evening at Crawfordsville, while the Athenians are in the hunt for their second title in the last three years after defeating North Montgomery.
Parke Heritage won the 2018 sectional, giving the Wolves their first sectional title in any sport in the inaugural year of the school, while the Chargers last won in 2015.
The Mounties defeated the Wolves 5-0.
At No. 1 singles Adam Cox defeated Evan James 7-5, 6-3, while Trevor McKinney beat RJ Nelson 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles, and Conner McVay was victorious over Mason Bowsher 6-0, 6-2 in the No. 3 position.
The duo of Reese Long and Micah Korhorn defeated Joel Gooch and Riley Ferguson 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles, while Luke Tesmer and EJ Brewer came from behind to beat Gavin Jacks and Garrett McCalister 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.
After the Mounties dropped their regular season finale to Lebanon last week, coach Nathan Poynter says they have been focusing on staying relaxed.
“Ever since our Lebanon match we haven’t done anything but try to just hit, hit, hit and be relaxed,” he said. “We are wanting the kids to be relaxed. I think as long as they are relaxed they’re going to do fine.”
For a second time this season Crawfordsville was able to squeak by North Montgomery 3-2.
“A couple of the matches I saw it take a while for the guys to settle in and play their tennis,” Crawfordsville coach Craig Brainard said. “But overall I saw a lot of fighting and people adjusting.”
At No. 1 singles Austin Motz made quick work of Hunter Kashon 6-0, 6-1, while Thatcher Gambrel defeated Brookes Walters 6-3, 6-0 at No. 2 singles, and the duo of Ziair Morgan and Peyton Groumoutis defeated Ben Eldridge and Hayden Turner 6-0. 6-4 at No. 2 doubles to seal the win for the Athenians.
North Montgomery’s Haze Kashon picked up a win over Jacob Burke 6-2, 6-0 at No. 3 singles, and Carter Livingston and Will McKinniss defeated Owen Bennett and Zach Fichter 6-2, 7-5(5) at No. 1 doubles. Livingston and McKinniss advance in the individual portion of the sectional.
“That was exciting for them,” Chargers coach Shannon Joyce said. “I was glad they were able to close that out. I was glad that they got a strong start. We’ve kind of struggled with that at No. 1 doubles. They communicated well tonight and I was happy with that, and they were placing the ball where they needed to put it.”
Joyce said she saw tremendous improvement throughout the season from her team after the season-ending loss.
“We talked about in our team meeting just how much improvement we’ve seen from the beginning of the year,” she said. “I told them it was a completely different team from the first time we played Crawfordsville until now.”
Crawfordsville will now face Southmont in the sectional final at 4:45 on Thursday at Crawfordsville, where the Athenians will look to upset the favored Mounties.
“The mindset is play your best tennis, and try and control the points,” Brainard said. “Make them make mistakes, play our tennis and try and stay mentally strong throughout the match.”
Poynter knows no matter what the matchup looks like on paper, the Mounties must not overlook the Athenians.
“You can’t overlook anybody,” he said. “Their one and two singles is pretty competitive. We have to be ready to play. Everybody has to come ready to play.”