Their performance delivered the statement they wanted to loud and clear too.
The Tigers, motivated by the memory of a stunning, season-ending loss a year ago, earned a measure of revenge versus Columbia City in the process.
Warsaw opened its 2012 campaign by serving up a 5-0 victory over the visiting Eagles at WCHS.
An experienced and improved Tiger team, led by Kyle Wettschurack at No. 1 singles and AJ Herendeen and Sam Rice at No. 1 doubles, lost just one set in blanking Columbia City.
Wettschurack’s play at the top of the lineup told the story on this day. The junior defeated senior Derek Hinen 7-5, 6-3. Hinen, who advanced to the individual regional final in 2011, beat Wettschurack twice in straight sets last season including in the sectional final where the Eagles edged the Tigers 3-2.“This is a huge win for me,” said Wettschurack, one of six players back from the Tigers’ top seven a year ago. “I’ve been waiting for this for a while and was really motivated to play him again. It shows how I’ve improved after losing to him twice last year.
“I’ve gotten a lot more consistent this season. I definitely worked on my consistency in the offseason. I hit a lot with guys over in Fort Wayne. This year I was able to make enough good shots to get him out of position and then hit winners.”
The Tigers, who finished 8-6 in 2011, had Monday’s scheduled season opener at Penn rained out. The hosts wasted no time Wednesday setting the tone against an overmatched Eagles’ team which had just eight players on its roster.
Junior Evan Miller was first off the court with a 6-0, 6-0 pasting of sophomore Mason Coverstone at No. 3 singles. Warsaw took a 2-0 lead as junior Will Petro and senior Connor Singrey then posted a 6-1, 6-2 win over seniors Austin Paul and Daniel Woll at No. 2 doubles. The hosts secured the team win when senior AJ Herendeen and sophomore Sam Rice notched a 6-1, 6-3 victory over senior Drew Benedict and junior Blake Fearnow at No. 1 doubles.
The Tigers completed the shutout as Wettschurack topped Hinen to make it 4-0 and senior Alek Jansen outlasted freshman Niko Rongos at No. 2 singles. Jansen prevailed 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 in the marathon match that pushed past two hours.
WCHS coach Rick Orban said it was all about the past and also about sending a message about the present.
“We wanted to send a message loud and clear that we are here to win this year,” Orban said. “This meant a lot to our kids. They wanted to show they are coming out to win. It all goes back to last year’s sectional final. We thought we were the better team. I reminded them about this match in the first five minutes of the first day of practice this year. The postseason is what means everything to us.“We’re extremely deep this year and this team has worked had all summer on its weaknesses. I don’t think they know yet how good they can be. Kyle played extremely well today and I’m proud of him. That kid’s a good player. He got to the Elite Eight last year. Kyle has just worked extremely hard and he’s easy to coach.”
Columbia City, which lost 4-1 to Plymouth in the regional semifinals in 2011, drops to 1-2. The Eagles lost 4-1 to Concord Monday and beat Churubusco 5-0 Tuesday.
Warsaw (1-0) hosts Mishawaka Marian Monday before playing at Penn Wednesday and then opening conference play at Elkhart Memorial next Thursday.