News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

October 3, 2013

14th-ranked South needs comeback for tennis sectional win over North

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute South needed a furious third-set comeback from junior Nathan Bogle at No. 1 singles to edge Terre Haute North 3-2 in the semifinals of the IHSAA boys tennis sectional played on a pleasant, breezy Thursday afternoon and evening on the Patriots’ courts.

At the same time, West Vigo slipped past Sullivan by the same score in the other semifinal match, setting up a South vs. West Vigo clash for the sectional title.

Please note that the sectional championship match has been moved up to 5 p.m. today. North director of athletics Shane Abrell said the schedule change was made because of the possibility of inclement weather Saturday.

On Thursday, No. 14-ranked South took the first completed match as senior Krishan Kumar won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2 singles. The Patriots eventually evened the score when their No. 1 doubles duo of Justin Newton and Keaton Akers emerged victorious 7-5, 6-4.

The Braves catapulted back on top 2-1 when Luke Yeagley and Matthew Gonzalez outlasted Luke Dugger and Lucas Davis 7-5, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles.

But the host school knotted the score again as Grant Potts pulled out a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Scott Kellar at No. 3 singles, setting the stage for Bogle’s heroics.

After Bogle defeated junior Andrew Farmer 6-0 in the first set, Farmer stormed back to win the second set 6-3 and lead the third set 4-1. But with most of the sectional crowd watching this match, Bogle rallied to win six of the next seven games to secure the triumph for himself and his team.

“[Farmer] played really well in the second and third sets,” Bogle told the Tribune-Star afterward. “I wasn’t playing as well, physically.”

Bothered by back problems this season, Bogle preferred to credit Farmer more than use his injury as an excuse for being forced into a difficult third set.

But Bogle answered the challenge when the match was on the line.

“I had to change my strategy a little bit and grind it out,” he explained. “It was probably more mental than anything else.”

When the Braves and Patriots squared off in the regular season Sept. 17, South won 4-1. South coach Bill Blankenbaker admitted Potts’ victory Thursday made this match closer and more dramatic.

“I’m very proud,” the Braves’ coach emphasized. “You always know North will play us tough. I didn’t expect [such a nailbiter] at 1 singles. Nathan played very well. He was down, but still came back. He fought it out real hard. Farmer played the match of his life. He played very well.”

In the other semifinal, senior Blake Benefiel provided the decisive victory for West Vigo when his 6-2, 7-6 (7-1) decision over Jake Pirtle at No. 2 singles put the Vikings up 3-1.

“Blake does an awesome job of keeping the ball in play,” West Vigo coach Doug Tilford noted. “He capitalizes on mistakes of others and that’s what he did today. He’s a very consistent player.”

Doubles winners for the Vikings were Tyson Tolerson-Padan Horsley at No. 1 (7-5, 6-2) and Michael Vermillion-Grant Kirby at No. 2 (6-3, 6-2).

This was the third time that West Vigo has knocked off the Golden Arrows in 2013, with the regular-season scores ending up 3-2 and 4-1.

Now Tilford will turn his attention to South, which blanked his Vikings 5-0 in the regular season.

“We’re going to go out there and play our best against them, just play our game,” he promised. “They’re a very, very strong team. They did beat us 5-0 the first time, but my kids have improved since then.”

From the South perspective, Blankenbaker insists he won’t be taking the Vikings lightly today.

“I think that they’ve had a fantastic season,” he assessed. “They’re 20-2. I hate to be the spoiler, but I hope it’s 20-3 when we’re done [today].”

Meanwhile, North coach Bob Denny will be forced to watch today’s title match from the tournament-host role, despite his squad’s valiant effort Thursday.

“Nathan is a very, very good player,” he said of South’s winner at No. 1 singles. “There are a lot of things on his mind right now, but Andrew played the best match he’s played all year. This is why you practice hard and you come ready to play a sectional match. Sectionals are a tough thing. You never know what’s going to happen in a sectional.

“We came very, very close to winning. We were so close. The guys deserved to win, but they just didn’t. I’m real proud of them.”

Denny mentioned that the Newton-Akers doubles team will advance to the Crawfordsville Regional next week, thanks to its success Thursday.

Looking ahead, Denny said the Patriots will lose two seniors to graduation — Davis and Potts — before the start of next season.

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