WARSAW – The Warsaw boys tennis team had its sights set on completing a second straight undefeated run through the Northern Lakes Conference Monday evening.
Concord had other ideas though.
A fired-up Minutemen team upended the host Tigers 3-2 in the regular season and league finale.
The pair of rivals never lack for plenty of spirited competition when they meet on the court and Monday night was no exception.
Concord not only claimed a share of the NLC regular-season title, but also ended a 13-match Warsaw winning streak in conference play. The Minutemen were the last team to beat the Tigers, winning at Warsaw in the final NLC match in 2011.
The Minutemen, who tie Warsaw at 6-1 in NLC action, were simply stronger across the board. Plymouth is 5-1 in league play after beating Northridge 4-1 Monday. The Pilgrims conclude NLC play with a makeup match at Goshen Tuesday night.
Concord, which lost 3-2 to Plymouth, improves to 11-4 overall. Warsaw, which beat Plymouth 3-2, drops to 9-5.
“No doubt, Concord was the better team tonight,” said Warsaw coach Rick Orban. “I thought that it would be extremely competitive, but I thought we would win. I believe in my team and always think we are going to win.
“Concord was bound and determined to end our NLC streak. We should have been as determined to continue it. I thought we were lethargic. It was like we just expected to win and that bothers me. You have to bring it against Concord.
“We had a great talk before the match tonight about what this meant. But, we were not moving our feet and the energy level was not there tonight. I think it was a matter of focus tonight.”
The Minutemen started strong on the first two singles courts en route to the win.
Senior Bernardo Cadario topped Kyle Wettschurack 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 singles to give Concord a 1-0 lead. Cadario is an exchange student from Colombia.
The Tigers evened the match at 1-1 as senior Evan Miller continued his stellar season. Miller, despite a knee injury early in the season, continued to roll. He beat Jared Searer 6-3, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.
Concord senior Nick Pollock beat Sam Rice 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1 singles for the second point for the Minutemen. The victory was secured a short time later when Riley Huffer and Mitchell Lozier won 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles for Concord over the Warsaw duo of Nic Jansen and Justin Stout.
The match of the night turned out to be at No. 1 doubles. Warsaw seniors Will Petro and Nikos Schlitt outlasted Aaron Allen and Mitch Boyer 7-6, 7-6 in a spirited tussle. The Tiger tandem won the first tiebreaker 7-5 and then took the marathon second one by a 12-10 count.
“I’m proud of Evan,” remarked Orban. “He’s had a great career and there’s no way he was going to lose on Senior Night. Our No. 1 doubles were stupendous. They have not played together very much and they toughed it out. Both of them are seniors and it was cool to see them go out with a win.”
Concord coach Todd Denton saw a lot to like from his team.
“This is something our kids have worked for and overall this was our best match of the season,” said Denton. “Our singles have carried us, but both our doubles teams have improved. They lost, but my No. 1 team played the best match of their careers tonight.
“I thought it would come down to No. 2 doubles. Evan is a phenomenal player for them at No. 3. The NLC as a whole is very competitive.
“All three of us (Concord, Warsaw and Plymouth) are so competitive and hate to lose. It’s always a great match with Warsaw. I thought that we had a shot going into tonight and we snuck one out.”
Both teams now have one day to gear up for the NLC Tournament, which starts Wednesday at Plymouth. The tourney, which Warsaw won last season, continues at Plymouth Thursday with the final day at Goshen Middle School Saturday starting at 9 a.m.
Warsaw won the junior varsity action by a 10-0 final Monday. Winners for the JV Tigers in singles play were Ryan Wettschurack, Andrew Gauger, David Homme, Wesley Shuler and Mario Hernandez. Winning in doubles action were the Warsaw teams of Cole Baker and Christopher Herendeen, Tim Rata and Hudson Snyder, Caleb DeBoest and Jean-Luc Baldwin, Drew McCollom and Chris Stichter and Graham Ousley and Keeton Bartol.