Tippecanoe Valley and Whitko squared off in the first round of the Warsaw Boys Tennis Sectional, the third time this season the two have seen each other. Valley, however, looked the stronger and more polished side in a 5-0 win, eliminating the Wildcats from the postseason.
Valley wasted very little time putting the pressure on Whitko, notably on the three singles court where Isaac Shewman needed just under 40 minutes to beat Tyler Pottenger 6-0, 6-0. The two doubles match between Robby Groom and Logan Britton of Valley and Garrett Smiley and Riley Anderson finished with a much different scoreline, but won just as quickly going 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
A straight set win from Tanner Neeley over Blake Castle, two and one, at two singles put the match in Valley’s column and a quick sigh of relief from head coach Matt Mobley.
“We’re real happy to get a win against a team that knows us really well, we are really happy. Especially since we have to play Warsaw tomorrow,” stated Valley head coach Matt Mobley. “We are going to have to play with as much effort and energy to keep up with them if we want to keep playing.”
The big serves of Clayton Adamson and quick reactions of Derrick Cunningham were too much for Seth Patrick and Cole Bechtold to handle. Despite showing signs of life in the second set, the Whitko pair could not keep its season alive, losing 6-1, 6-2.
Already having lost the team competition, there was still plenty for Tyler Baugher to play for at one singles for Whitko. Having already lost the first set 6-2 to Nicholas Kindig, Baugher kept plugging away although already having trailed 4-1 in the second set. Taking the match to over an hour while forcing a handful of deuces, Baugher ran out of answers. Kindig used over a half dozen overhead smashes to finally put away Baugher 6-1 in the second set to sweep the afternoon for the Vikings.
“We hung around with a lot of long points, but couldn’t get over the hump to win any sets,” said Whitko head coach Kory Mettler. Whitko, which concludes its season 5-8 overall, faced Valley in the regular season as part of the Three Rivers Conference schedule and also saw each other at the Knox Invite, Valley getting the best of each matchup. “This wasn’t a bad way to lose, but no one ever wants to see a season end. We had everyone back from last year, and we played a lot better as the year went along. I’m proud of what the kids were able to do this season.”
The Vikings (6-8 overall) will have 24 hours to enjoy the victory, then take on the prohibitive favorite of the tournament, host Warsaw, tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. in one of the two semi-final matches of the day. Wawasee and Columbia City will meet in the second matchup, with the four teams playing for a spot in Friday’s championship match.
Columbia City are the defending sectional champion while Warsaw enters the tournament following an impressive run through the Northern Lakes Conference tournament that had four of the five courts for the Tigers win conference titles.
Columbia City beat Wawasee, 3-0, during a rain shortened invitational earlier this month while Valley and Warsaw did not meet this season.
Mobley is sure his team will have its hands full, but was encouraged by what his team was able to show in the opener.
“Getting past Warsaw, we will probably have to have some luck on our side,” Mobley said. “The big thing that I want to see is that our boys compete. They give 100 percent and compete. Make Warsaw earn it, don;t just give it to them. If we do that, I’m not concerned so much with the score.
“Yes, we want to win. It will take the stars aligning and a lot of things working in our favor to get a team win. I think Nick has a chance. Upsets do happen, even in tennis.”