TERRE HAUTE —
OK, so Terre Haute South edged Terre Haute North 3-2 on Sept. 11 when junior Krishan Kumar pulled out a three-set victory for the Braves at No. 2 singles.
But four days later, North finished one position higher than South — fourth and fifth respectively — in the always-tough Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) championships at Ben Davis.
Last Saturday, the Braves did knock off No. 5-ranked Brebeuf 3-2 (on the same day North lost to Brebeuf 3-2). And they sit at No. 23 in the state rankings (North is unranked), so that probably makes them a slight favorite to win the Terre Haute South Sectional for boys high school tennis, which starts today and ends Saturday.
But when South (11-3) and North (8-5) square off against each other, which is on the revised schedule for 9 a.m. Saturday, who really knows what will happen?
Actually, one thing is known — the survivor will advance to the sectional championship match, now slated for 2 p.m. Saturday.
The opponent very well could be North Central, which owns a 12-1 record and a pair of 5-0 regular-season triumphs over Sullivan, its first-round foe today at 5 p.m.
West Vigo, which lost to North Central 4-1 early in the season, will face the North Central-Sullivan winner at 9 a.m. Saturday for the right to compete in the final match.
“Obviously, one of the three smaller schools is going to be in the championship match,” North Central coach John Caton mentioned Tuesday. “In our situation, we’ve got a chance to win two matches before playing North or South.”
But playing North or South in boys tennis usually means the end of the road for the Wabash Valley’s smaller schools, so there will be plenty of attention focused on the Braves’ courts Saturday morning when the sectional title is likely to be determined by the two big schools.
“It should be a good [North-South] match,” predicted South coach Bill Blankenbaker, who has made a few lineup changes since the MIC championships. “I like our chances in a lot of the matches.”
Blankenbaker anticipates another strong showing from his No. 1 singles player, sophomore Nathan Bogle, who defeated North senior Tate Egan 6-1, 6-1 in their regular-season clash. Also worth noting, however, is that Egan defeated Brebeuf’s Mark Kite 6-2, 6-3 Saturday and Bogle lost to Kite 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.
“[Egan] beat a Brebeuf guy who’s pretty good,” North coach Bob Denny said, “so he’s feeling confident going in.”
Denny warned that the North-South final score from Sept. 11 is not guaranteed to be repeated.
“Ever since the South match, we’ve been playing better,” he pointed out. “But it’s going to be a dog fight.”
Denny is concerned about the health of senior Alex Farmer, whose knee buckled in practice last week. If Farmer is unable to join partner Sam Wolf at No. 1 doubles, senior Gabe Savigny will continue to fill his spot.
“Hopefully, we’ll get [Farmer] back for Saturday,” Denny added.
The Patriots’ coach noted that all five of his team’s losses have been to ranked opponents. North is coming off a 5-0 victory at Crawfordsville on Monday.
Meanwhile, South’s three winners against Brebeuf a few days ago were Kumar at No. 2 singles, senior Alex Barksdale at No. 3 singles (which North did not see during its regular-match with the Braves) and freshman Luke Yeagley and sophomore Trace Harruff at No. 2 doubles (also a new look for North).
But Blankenbaker won’t be changing a thing at No. 1 singles.
“I think Nathan’s been playing very well,” the Braves’ coach assessed. “He’s been playing a heckuva lot of good players lately. I like the way he’s playing right now.”
Other boys tennis sectionals involving Valley teams will take place this week at Northview, Crawfordsville and North Daviess.