LAPEL — Winning in the postseason isn’t easy. Winning back-to-back sectionals is hard. Winning six in a row is rare, but the Lapel boys tennis team completed that rare feat with its 3-2 win against Alexandria in the sectional final on Sept. 28.
While the Bulldogs breezed through the first two rounds, defeating Anderson 4-1 and Anderson Prep 5-0, Coach Justin Coomer knew Alexandria would present a challenge.
“Coming out of the gate slow was my biggest worry,” Coomer said. “But we were ready to go.”
Alexandria had lost both its varsity doubles teams from last season, and Lapel had lost major players as well, but the Bulldogs have not suffered for it.
“Coming in this season, I wasn’t sure, but we’ve got great kids,” Coomer said.
Seniors Cole Metzger and Ian Vipperman played junior varsity last year and waited for their time to shine this year at No. 2 doubles, winning their match 6-0, 6-1.
“When it came down to it, they contributed for the win,” Coomer said.
At No. 1 singles, Jesse McCurdy won in two sets 6-1, 6-2 and all season has been the Bulldog leader, going undefeated for the year.
“I just go into it like I go into every match with the attacking mindset and play aggressive,” McCurdy said. “I was grateful for a good match today.”
McCurdy has played on three of the six sectional-winning teams.
“Honestly, I’m so grateful for my team, my coaches and the opportunity to play this sport,” he said. “It’s been such a blessing.”
Ross Hagen and Reid Ratzlaff won at No. 1 doubles with a score of 6-3, 6-0.
By 6 p.m., the Bulldogs had claimed the title, but Corbin Renihan at No. 2 singles still was on the court. He’d lost the first set 6-2, but Renihan, knowing his team had the trophy, continued to play as if the title were on the line. Renihan fought for every point in the second set, even diving and sliding across the court in an attempt to return the volley. At the end, Renihan lost the second set 6-4, but the play from the freshman impressed everyone.
“He’s going to be really good,” Coomer said. “He’s got all the athleticism in the world, and he’s a fighter. He played great.”
When Renihan got word of his team’s win, he didn’t let up, but he did feel relief.
“It made me feel less nervous,”he said.
He calmed down and was able to be more aggressive in his approach.
He wanted his first sectional win as a freshman, but he knows he has a future on the Bulldog courts.
“I love this team, and as a freshman, they treat me well. We have a tough schedule, but it gets us ready.”
The Bulldogs defeated Winchester 4-1 in the Marion regional Tuesday, Oct. 2. They were set to face Delta on Wednesday, Oct. 3 (after press time).
Pendleton Heights tennis player Walker Stull moved on to regional tennis action at North Central after winning his singles match in the Mt. Vernon sectional last week, but the rest of the Arabians’ season came to an end with a 4-1 loss to Mt. Vernon.
Stull is set to play Saturday, Oct. 13, at Fishers in the individual portion of regional action.
In sectional play Wednesday, Sept. 26, Stull at No. 1 singles pulled in the Arabians’ only point, but it was a dominating performance.
Walker won 6-1, 6-2 and did an excellent job of mixing up shots and approaches and serving lights out, coach Royce Hammel said.
In No. 2 singles play, Seth Moore played a lefty with a lot of lob in his shot, and Moore lost 6-3, 6-4.
In No. 3 singles play, Kaleb Alumbaugh lost 6-1 in the first set and 6-4 in the second set.
In doubles play, the Arabians team of Jackson McKinney and Caleb King had chances, but the duo jumped out in both sets to 3-0 leads only to lose 6-4, 7-5.
The No. 2 doubles team of Evan Bobb and Nick Vetor put up a good fight after falling behind 4-1 in the first set before losing 7-5, 6-2.
After the match the coach said he was proud of how his team played and represented themselves and Pendleton Heights.
“We played hard the whole match at each level and despite some bad calls, made looking into the sun glare on court, we kept our heads cool and battled on,” Hammel said. “The opposing coach also commented how close the matches were and the improvement in our play.”