HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

BOYS TENNIS: Mustangs handle Athenians in season opener

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VEEDERSBURG — Fountain Central boys’ tennis coach Chris Webb didn’t know what to expect.

But his young team delivered a 4-1 season-opening win over Crawfordsville that included a sweep at the singles positions.

“Even with this being my 22nd year being part of the boys’ program here, I had no idea what to expect today,” Webb said. “It’s just that amount of youth and that amount of inexperience. Our kids battled. They battled really really hard today. I’m very proud of all of our singles players. I don’t know that we have the better strokes. If you were watching the match, it sure looked like from a technique standpoint it sure looked like Crawfordsville has three solid guys out there and they do.”

The Mustangs graduated six seniors from a sectional title team in 2020, returning just one every day varsity player in Brayden Prickett — who picked up a 6-3, 7-6(4) win over Crawfordsville freshman Wyatt Motz.

Fountain Central freshman Skyler Hoagland beat Crawfordsville’s James Murphy 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, while Gabe McCollum defeated Jude Hutchison 6-1, 6-1 in the No. 3 slot.

“No. 1 singles for instance. That’s not a 6-2, 6-1 result. That score does not indicate how close that match was,” Webb added. “It was very well played and very competitive. Skyler just makes you put shots away on every single point, because he’s not going to make mistakes.”

Both Motz and Hutchison are freshmen for the Athenians, and Brainard was overall pleased with how his team fought.

“I think we saw today that they (Hutchison, Motz) both looked maybe a little less than comfortable trying to find their strokes, but it’s nice to have the first match under our belt against a non-conference team and there’s just not really a pressure to win or lose,” Brainard said. “What I did like, was I felt like the young guys fought and our older guys pulled through and got the win, which was really cool. And they were positive the whole time, which is something we are working on this year.”

Ziair Morgan and Thatcher Gambrel teamed up for the Athenians lone win at No. 1 doubles — defeating Carter Merryman and Koby Wolf 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.

Gambrel made the move to doubles after spending last season at No. 2 singles.

“I think it was good and it wasn’t like it was an easy win either, because they had to fight through the third set. It was just nice to see Thatcher and Ziair working together and overcoming that adversity,” Brainard said.

Fountain Central’s Noah Armstrong and Lukas Miller defeated Thomas Bowling and James Novak 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles.

Even with a young team, the Mustangs looked ready to carry on the winning tradition their graduated teammates helped set in previous seasons.

“We’ve got two college freshmen that graduated last year that came out tonight to watch their teammates and I know that’s an inspiration for the guys that are on the court, because they know those guys still care about how they do,” Webb said. “And that group that graduated last season, they set the tone for a lot of these kids.”

Crawfordsville hosts McCutcheon on Thursday, while Fountain Central is at Frankfort today. 

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