The Tigers’ performance was far from perfect though in the eyes of their coach.
Rick Orban found plenty to raise his ire despite seeing his team improve to 4-0 in league action by bouncing the host Raiders.
“We did tonight what we’ve done all season,” said Orban. “We take mental breaks at times in our matches. We just have a tendency to lack focus at times.”
Despite an up-and-down effort at times from several positions, the Tigers prevailed to stay atop the race for NLC regular-season championship honors with fellow league unbeaten Concord. Warsaw, which improved to 6-2 overall with Tuesday’s win, hosts Wawasee Sept. 11, plays at NorthWood Sept. 13 and travels to Concord Sept. 17 to wrap up NLC play.
“Winning the NLC is important to us,” Orban said. “I think there’s no doubt it will come down to us and Concord. We’ll be prohibitive favorites against Wawasee and NorthWood. Concord has a good team. I don’t look at records and all that, but I do know they have a strong team.”
The Minutemen improved to 3-0 in NLC play with a 4-1 conference win over Elkhart Memorial Tuesday night.
The Tigers, who were 5-2 in the NLC last year, claimed both doubles matches Tuesday night and a three-set marathon at No. 2 singles to notch the win.Warsaw went up 1-0 as junior Will Petro and senior Connor Singrey continued their unbeaten season at No. 2 doubles with a 6-4, 6-1 win over senior Eric Beck and junior Clay Schnell. The Raiders, who fall to 4-4 overall and 1-2 in the NLC, evened the match as senior Chris Robbins won the final five games at No. 1 singles to top junior Kyle Wettschurack 6-2, 6-4.
The Tigers got their second and third wins of the match just minutes apart to clinch the team victory. After Orban had a long and animated, at times, talk with them in between sets, senior AJ Herendeen and sophomore Sam Rice rolled in the third set to beat seniors Andrew Gingerich and Byron Slabach 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. Junior Evan Miller then finished off a 0-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory over junior Josh Garfein at No. 2 singles in 2:15 to clinch the win.
The hosts, who finished 8-8 overall and 4-3 in the NLC in 2011, won at No. 3 singles as senior Jed Miller outlasted senior Nick Hamrick 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) in the final match to wrap up. Hamrick, who was unbeaten at No. 1 singles for the Tiger JV team, was inserted in the varsity lineup Tuesday night.
“Kyle just has to focus the entire match,” said Orban of his top singles player. “He did not get to his opponent’s weaknesses in the first set and then he’s up 4-1 in the second. Evan was extremely flat. He’s been sick for a few days and did not practice. I’m pleased with how he turned it on after that first set. Nick gave it all he had at No. 3. We’ll see what happens there. AJ played well tonight at No. 1 singles for our JV.
“I had a little heart-to-heart talk with AJ and Sam after they split sets. Their first set was mediocre and the second was extremely sloppy and they lost all focus. The third set was probably the strongest set they’ve played in two years, especially the first five games of it. That’s what I expect from them from now on.”
Warsaw won the JV match by a 5-4 count. AJ Jansen won in singles play for the Tigers. Warsaw also had wins from its doubles teams of Nic Jansen and Christopher Herendeen, Caleb Snyder and Nikos Schlitt, Andrew Cox and Caleb Ray and Nick Kurtaneck and Cole Baker.
Warsaw (6-2, 4-0) plays at No. 3 Fort Wayne Canterbury Thursday. The Tigers then host their own tournament Saturday starting at 9 a.m. The loaded field includes Canterbury and No. 4 Park Tudor from Indianapolis.
Northridge (4-4, 1-2) hosts NLC foe Wawasee Thursday.