The Tigers may end up running into King Kong come Wednesday.
Warsaw, which was upset the last two years in the sectional finals, moves on to the Culver Academies Regional. The Tigers (11-2) will be heavily favored Tuesday versus Peru (9-11) in a regional semifinal at 5 p.m.
Warsaw, with a win Tuesday, will likely clash with No. 14 Culver Academies come Wedneday in the regional finale at 5 p.m. The host and defending regional champion Eagles (16-2) play Plymouth (14-4) in Tuesday’s other semifinal at 5 p.m. Warsaw lost a 4-1 final at Culver Academies back on Aug. 29 and then beat NLC foe Plymouth 3-2 the following day.
Veteran Warsaw coach Rick Orban, whose team is in the regional for the first time since 2009, knows what his team needs to do at the regional.
“We just have to come in focused, eliminate the unforced errors and play smart tennis,” said Orban on Friday after a 4-1 win over Columbia City in the sectional final at WCHS. “If we play smart tennis, we have a shot to beat anyone.”Warsaw’s doubles teams have been strong throughout the last few weeks especially as the Tigers won the NLC title at 7-0 and then rolled through the NLC Meet with championships at No. 1 and 2 doubles and No. 2 and 3 singles. The No. 1 tandem of senior AJ Herendeen and sophomore Sam Rice and the No. 2 duo of senior Connor Singrey and junior Will Petro have been tough for the Tigers. The singles lineup features junior Kyle Wettschurack at No. 1, junior Evan Miller at No. 2 and senior Alek Jansen at No. 3.
Jansen set the tone in the sectional final as Warsaw avenged a 3-2 loss to the Eagles from the 2011 sectional title tilt. The senior won 6-0, 6-2 in just 47 minutes to give Warsaw its first point of the match.
“I’m confident in our doubles teams,” said Jansen looking ahead to the regional round of the state tournament. “The pressure is on our three singles players. We have to step up and if we do I think we have a shot at going to State.”
Peru won its own sectional Saturday by downing Wabash 4-1 in the championship. Culver Academies beat North Judson 4-1 in the final of its own sectional to win its ninth in a row. The Pilgrims made it 16 straight sectional championships with a 4-1 win over host Bremen in the final. Warsaw and Peru have each now won 25 sectional titles, while Culver Academies and Plymouth each have 23.
Culver Academies beat Plymouth 4-1 in the regional final in 2011. The Eagles then lost 4-1 to Penn in the semi state. Culver Academies beat Warsaw in straight sets at all three singles positions and at No. 1 doubles during the regular season. The Tigers took the No. 2 doubles match as Singrey and Rice prevailed 6-4, 6-3. The lineup in the sectional finale for Culver Academies was exactly the same as the one that defeated the Tigers during the regular season, except
The Culver Academies Regional winner advances to the Culver Academies Semistate on Saturday (Oct. 6). They will face the winner of the Portage Regional at 10 a.m. for a spot in the State Finals, which is Oct. 12-13 at Carmel High School and at North Central High School in Indianapolis. The bracket for the Portage Regional Tuesday has Valparaiso versus Michigan City Marquette (15-2) and South Bend St. Joseph (18-2) versus No. 17 Penn (16-2).
Warsaw has won eight regional championships with the last one coming in 2007. Culver has won eight regional titles, including two in a row. Peru has six regional crowns, the last coming in 1995, and Plymouth has won one regional championship in 1992.