TENNIS’ SECOND SEASON IN FULL SWING
StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Tuesday, September 25, 2018
WARSAW – With conference championships out of the way, boys tennis is primed to take the next step this week. The IHSAA on Monday revealed its sectional brackets around the state, as drawn by athletic directors for the respective sectional sites.
Three area sectionals have teams from the IFN coverage area, and all three have intriguing matchup possibilities.
Warsaw’s sectional is cautiously up for grabs for possibly the first time in seven years. The six-time defending champion Tigers are still the prohibitive favorites until someone hands them an ‘L’. But unlike in year’s past, the Tigers are vulnerable after a rough showing at the Northern Lakes Conference Championships and some lopsided losses during regular season play.
Three Rivers Conference rivals Tippecanoe Valley and Whitko open the draw on Wednesday, with Columbia City awaiting the winner Thursday. The second matchup Thursday will be Warsaw versus Wawasee. Valley, which has played with just three players all season, will automatically start down 2-0 to Whitko, putting pressure on all three courts to have to win. Warsaw beat Wawasee 5-0 earlier in the month during NLC play, but was a competitive match.
“To be honest, I don’t know anything about Columbia City,” admitted Warsaw head coach Stacy Lind. “I think if our boys go out and play like they played during the NLCs, I think they have a really good chance.”
The NorthWood Panthers had a very solid showing at the NLCs, finishing third overall in the standings and second in the tournament scoring. All three of its singles courts were playing for titles, No. 2 Ben Vincent emerging as champion, and its No. 1 doubles team finishing third.
The host Panthers will have the luxury of getting day one off, with Goshen and Bethany Christian drawing each other in the Wednesday match. NorthWood will get that match winner, opposite Fairfield against Jimtown. The championship is set for Friday.
“In a tournament setting, anything can happen,” said NorthWood head coach Tiffiny Schwartz. “We tell the guys that you have to play your best at all times, because it can end just like that. As long as we come out strong, anything can happen. Tennis is very mental. If you let things bother you that is out of your control, that can swing a match quickly. We just have to be ready to play hard.”
Triton’s postseason success will again have to find a road through big brother Plymouth. The Pilgrims have won 21 sectional titles in a row and again have a lineup primed for the tournament after finishing in the top half of the NLC. Host Bremen drew Triton in the opening round, set for Wednesday. John Glenn awaits that winner, with Plymouth and LaVille set for the other Thursday matchup. DeSantis Courts will house Friday’s championship match.
“Plymouth is going to be strong yet,” said Triton head coach Al Peckham. “Bremen is right there with a young team. They played Plymouth strong. We played them strong so it depends on the draw and the night. You never know about this game. You can throw an upset sometimes.”
All three of the sectionals are set up with Wednesday-Thursday-Friday match days with 4:30 p.m. start times at each location, including championship finals.
NorthWood’s sectional champion will take part in the four-team regional at Concord, getting the DeKalb champion in the regional semis opposite winners from Concord and East Noble. Warsaw and Bremen winners will play in the four-team Culver Academy Regional. Warsaw and Peru winners will meet in the semis, as will Bremen and Culver Academy winners on the opposite draw. Regionals are set for Oct. 2-3 across the state. The State Finals are set for Oct. 12-13 at sites in and around Indianapolis.