Southmont boys’ tennis coach Nathan Poynter knew three things coming into the 2020 season.
He knew his team was young albeit talented, the early part of the schedule was against tough competition — and most importantly he returned his No. 1 singles player in sophomore Adam Cox.
The Mounties started the season 1-6, but the young talent took shape, Poynter made a change to his coaching philosophy, and Cox flourished in his second season of varsity tennis.
On Thursday, Southmont dominated its way to a 4-1 win over Crawfordsville to claim a second straight IHSAA Sectional Title. It was their 13th-straight victory, just the fifth sectional championship in school history, and first ever back-to-back title.
“You really see where you’re at and where you have to come from,” Poynter said of the slow start to the regular season. “We started off where only three of these kids had ever seen a varsity sport. For the kids to stay with it and win back-to-back matches these last two nights really says a lot for the kids and how far they’ve come since we are such a young team.”
Cox defeated Austin Motz 6-2, 6-1 for his 18th win of the season.
“My teammates lift me up a lot,” Cox said. “It’s like I’ve been there before. Just learning last year how people play and that has just helped me a lot.”
Many nights this season, including Thursday, Cox was one of the first Mounties to leave the court, leaving plenty of time to cheer on his teammates and spread his success down the line.
“He’s (Cox) had a pretty strong season and even come a long way throughout the season,” Poynter said. “but it’s really nice. If your 1 singles is winning, it trickles down through the whole team. He’s a really upbeat person with his teammates.”
Luke Tesmer made the jump from No. 2 doubles in 2019 to No. 2 singles this season, and the sophomore inked a 6-2, 6-0 win over Crawfordsville’s Thatcher Gambrel. Senior Micah Korhorn paired up with a new teammate this season at No. 1 doubles in Mason Hall. They defeated Zach Fichter and Ziair Morgan 6-3, 6-2.
Sophomores Chayce Howell and Harrison Haddock paired up to defeat Thomas Bowling and James Novak 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles, while Crawfordsville’s James Murphy defeated Southmont’s Luke Watson 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.
Poynter, the longtime Mounties’ coach, said a completely new coaching style made the difference for his young team.
“This year I’ve coached 100% different than I ever have in my life,” he said. “This year it’s all been mental. It’s been 100% mental coaching. For the young guys to overcome some of the things they have, they just had to keep their mind in it and stay with it.”
Crawfordsville coach Craig Brainard was pleased with how his team progressed throughout the season and showed up on Thursday even in defeat.
“I had nothing but good things to say tonight,” he said. “It didn’t go in our favor, and it gets said over and over and over again, but tonight the score didn’t indicate how close the matches were.”
For a second straight year Southmont will compete in the regional, which will start on Tuesday at Crawfordsville. The Mounties await the winner from the Fountain Central sectional — with plenty still to play for.
“It’s been awesome,” Cox said. “We aren’t stopping here and we are not done this year yet either, we still have goals ahead of us.”