Arabians tennis drops HHC opener to Mt. Vernon


FORTVILLE — Monday’s tennis battle at Mt. Vernon was the opening of the Hoosier Heritage Conference for both the Arabians and Marauders.
It was also the first meeting between the conference’s two newest coaches.
For Graham McMullen, HHC matchups are nothing new, but it was his first as head coach of Mt. Vernon, and for Bryant Beard it was his first taste of conference play as head coach of the Arabians.
Pendleton Heights was swept 5-0 to drop to 1-2 on the season.
“I don’t think it’s a talent thing that we’re missing, I think it’s an energy thing, and a confidence thing, which will come,” Beard said. “That’s my job to help them get that.”
Mt. Vernon’s All-State No. 1 singles player Adam Koon was the first off the court. He defeated Pendleton Heights junior Austin Perry in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0.
Manny Downs, the Marauders’ No. 2 singles player, joined him shortly after, and the No. 1 doubles team of Robbie Moore and Bryndan Wylie secured the Mt. Vernon victory.
Downs defeated Cove Ritchey 6-1, 6-0, and Wylie and Moore won 6-1, 6-1 over Garrett Morgan and Troy Thorson.
“I just moved Cove back up to singles where he was originally. I played with the idea of a strong one-doubles team, and I think that’s still possible,” Beard said. “I just think he’s doing better there just because of rhythm.”
Tate Cougill earned the fourth point for Mt. Vernon with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Owen Kean at No. 3 singles.
In the longest, and closest, match of the evening, Matthew Jones and Max Orelup defeated Isaac Haugh and Jaxton Bush for the 5-0 sweep.
“I know most of these (Mt. Vernon) kids from private clinics, so we had a good idea of what we were getting into,” Beard said. “They’re a really strong team. We haven’t seen a lot of balls hit like that yet this season.”
Even in a 5-0 loss, the match was a building point for the Arabians going into the Madison County tournament, which began Wednesday.
“That’s exactly what we talked about. This was a really good opportunity for our team to use today, no matter what happened, to set a plan and intention and stick with it,” Beard said. “Even with some of the losses we had, I was really happy with us sticking to the plan and continuing to hit the ball instead of getting sucked into the push play.”
Sticking to a plan, learning from losses, and growing as a team throughout the season are Beard’s main priorities in his first season as head coach, he said.
“I thought it would be biting off a little more than I could chew, but to be honest it’s kind of filled a little void for me, so I’m really thankful to just have the guys and have that. Obviously, we want to win, and we want to grow, but that’s going to take some time for the program to do. I think we have all the resources to do it,” Beard said. “The biggest focus this season, and right now is just trying to change that mentality and culture. Even in losses we want to come back with data and take things away to help us get better rather than just going through the motions. I think we’re doing that well and keeping our head up high regardless of the outcome.”
The Arabians began the Madison County tournament Wednesday. The tournament runs through Friday.

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