VEEDERSBURG — Fountain Central knew they were going to have their hands full against Covington in the boys’ tennis sectional final on Friday.
And the Mustangs stepped up on the big stage.
Winners at four of the five spots, Fountain Central defeated the Trojans 4-1 to win its third-straight IHSAA Sectional title.
“I think Denton (Otero) even mentioned it being a big stage,” Fountain Central coach Chris Webb said. “And we’ve talked all season long about setting goals, and one of the goals was to win a sectional championship.”
The duo of Sawyer Keeling and CJ Yager gave the Mustangs an early lead with a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 2 doubles over Eli Batley and Jackson Kindell, while Carson Eberly beat Calvin Springer 6-3, 6-4 at No. 1 singles to give push Fountain Central’s lead to 2-0.
At No. 1 doubles, and with their backs against the wall, Denton Otero and Jacob Keeling responded.
After losing the first set 6-4, the duo overcame the deficit and two earlier regular season losses to Nolan and Myles Potter to beat the pair of Covington brothers 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and seal the title.
“We both knew that we could just do it,” Otero said. “We both knew that we could pull out the win. We did it at the Bi-County too and that was a pretty big stage, and this was an even bigger stage. We had no doubt from the start.”
Otero and Keeling had saved their best tennis for when it mattered most.
“I was really proud of Denton and Jacob tonight,” Webb said. “They put together some of their best tennis at the right time.”
Cody Linville battled through to beat Calvin Norton 6-2, 5-6, 10-7 (super tie-break) at No. 2 singles, while Brent Myers fell 6-4, 6-4 to Nick Turner at No. 3 singles.
“You know Cody’s last four sets against that kid had been 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, and 6-1,” Webb said about Linville. “So he hasn’t produced his best tennis against that kid, and then tonight he pushed himself to the limit, and was able to come out on top and that’s a really good win for him.”
Fountain Central returned Eberly, Linville, both Keeling and Otero, and Yager from last season’s title team, but it was Otero, as the only senior, who stepped up and led the 2019 squad.
“I’ve won them with these guys the last three years, and it just gets easier and easier to lead them,” he said.
Fountain Central will now face Terre Haute South at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Crawfordsville regional, and the task will be tough against one of the top-ranked teams in the state.
“The mindset is that if you’re going to be there, you play to win,” Webb said. “And I understand this is one of the top teams in the state. We are not just talking about the area, but one of the top teams in the state. Terre Haute South is going to be the best team we’ve seen all season. Our goal is to go play, and go play well and hard, and represent Fountain Central well, and that’s what we try to do every time we take the court.”
Check back in Monday’s Journal Review for more on Fountain Central boys’ tennis.