Warsaw boys tennis coach Rick Orban loved the focus he saw from his team in the sectional final.
He knows they will need more of that come the regional round of the state tournament series Tuesday evening.
Warsaw, which did not lose a single game in winning its own sectional title, faces conference rival Plymouth Tuesday in a semifinal match at the Culver Academies Regional at 5 p.m. The hosts, who are 10-7, meet Peru (15-5) in the other semifinal Tuesday at 5 p.m. with the winners returning on Wednesday, also at 5 p.m., to play for the regional title and a spot back at Culver Academies for the semi state round on Saturday morning.
“I was pretty thrilled with the sectional final,” said Orban, whose team blanked Whitko 5-0 on Thursday. “The guys showed complete focus and confidence. I told them they can play with anyone when they play like that.”
Warsaw (9-6) meets a familiar foe in Plymouth (15-1). The Pilgrims, who won their 18th straight sectional title Saturday, beat the Tigers 4-1 in their NLC head-to-head meeting. Plymouth also won three match ups with Warsaw in the finals of the NLC Tournament on Sept. 27. The Tigers topped Plymouth 3-2 in a tense regional final a year ago.
“We have to come out with the same focus Tuesday,” Orban said. “We have to come out aggressive and play smart tennis. We have to come out saying we are here to win.”
Warsaw goes with a singles lineup of all seniors in Sam Rice, Nic Jansen and Caleb Ray. The Pilgrims counter with junior John Hunter, sophomore John Gerard and junior Nate Knapp. The pairs of junior Christopher Herendeen and senior Cole Baker at No. 1 and sophomores David Homme and Justin Stout at No. 2 man the doubles spots for the Tigers, with seniors Ryan Johnson and Max Holloway at No. 1 and sophomore Nick Felke and junior Braydon Davidson at No. 2 for the Pilgrims.
“Plymouth is a good team,” said Orban. “They are consistent at what they do and mentally tough.”
Orban admits that this is the time of the season he looks forward to.
“This is the time of the year that matters the most,” Orban stated. “It shows what you are made of. That will be my message to our guys on our way to Culver on Tuesday. Hopefully, they embrace it and I think they will.”
Both Wawasee and Triton will also be represented by individuals at Culver Academies Tuesday evening at 5 p.m.
The Wawasee No. 1 doubles team of Jake Hutchinson and Nate Haines will be in action after a three-set win in their sectional match. They will face the Knox team of Tyler Simola and Jacob Wallingford-Abon. The winner of that match will return to play on Wednesday versus the Manchester doubles duo of Brandon Scott and Noah Cain.
Triton senior No. 1 singles player Jared Fisher will also compete after he won his sectional match at Bremen. Fisher will face Hunter Gilbert of Knox Tuesday.