WARSAW – The rains came and then the reign came.
Mother Nature delayed the start of the Warsaw tennis sectional final Friday as heavy rains forced the title tilt indoors.
It didn’t matter to the host Tigers, who then reigned supreme in the sectional for the second straight year.
Warsaw, the huge sectional favorite, took care of business by blanking Tippecanoe Valley 5-0 in the sectional finale played at the Warsaw Tennis and Fitness Club.
The Tigers, who improve to 12-5, earn a return trip to the Culver Academies Regional. Warsaw will face the host Eagles in one semifinal match Tuesday with Plymouth (15-3) squaring off with Manchester (13-2) in the other semifinal. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The regional title tilt is set for Wednesday, also at 5:30 p.m. at Culver Academies. The regional champion then plays in the semi state, also at Culver Academies, on Oct. 12 for a berth in the State Finals Oct. 18.
Warsaw lost 4-1 to the Eagles in the regional final in 2012 and dropped a 3-2 final to them back on Sept. 4 at Warsaw.
“I’m extremely pleased with the way we played today and in the sectional overall,” said Warsaw coach Rick Orban. “For the most part, we were focused and played our game.
“It’s a great finish to a really solid week for us, going back to the NLC Tournament last Saturday (which the Tigers also won). It’s a thrill to win the sectional. I don’t take the postseason for granted at all. On any given night, anything can happen.”
The Tigers weren’t about to let anything happen Friday evening other than a victory.
The hosts looked right at home indoors, where many of their players have tons of court experience. Warsaw, with just three courts available to start the match, clinched the sectional title in just 1:13 after getting a late start due to the rain.
Senior Evan Miller started the championship parade for the Tigers. Miller defeated Valley senior Isaac Shewman 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 singles in 40 minutes to make it 1-0.
Kyle Wettschurack, another senior standout, made it 2-0 about seven minutes later for the Tigers. Wettschurack collected a 6-1, 6-1 win over senior Derrick Cunningham at No. 2 singles.
Wettschurack feels his team is hitting it’s stride at the right time.
“We’re playing our best tennis right now as a team,” Wettschurack said. “We’re all focused. All of us, especially our four seniors, want a deep run in the tournament this year.”
Warsaw clinched the sectional title when seniors Will Petro and Nikos Schlitt finished out a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles over senior Logan Britton and sophomore Trevor Neeley.
The Tigers completed the shutout as junior Caleb Ray and Nic Jansen defeated senior Willy Inglehearn and sophomore Lucas Britton 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles. The final point came as junior Sam Rice topped senior Tanner Neeley 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1 singles.
Orban points to the rising confidence of his team in the last week with the return of Ray. The talented junior fractured his wrist in the match versus Culver Academies back on Sept. 4 and came back for the NLC Tournament last week. The Tigers also have a much different lineup now with just Rice, Miller and Ray playing in the same spots as the first match versus the Eagles.
“It’s always important to go in with confidence and we have it right now,” Orban said. “The return of Caleb has bolstered our team, no doubt about it.
“Honestly, Tuesday the best team will win. If we play our best tennis at the regional, no one can stop us.”
Warsaw won its’ last regional championship in 2007.
Valley, coached by Rosten Hamman, finishes its’ season 7-13.
The Vikings lose five seniors, including their entire singles lineup of Tanner Neeley, Derrick Cunningham and Isaac Shewman. Logan Britton and Willy Ingelhearn also played their final high school matches Friday.