WARSAW – The focus for the Warsaw boys tennis team Tuesday night was easy to find.
It was all about staying focused for the Tigers.
Warsaw did that just fine in celebrating Senior Night with a 5-0 win over county rival Wawasee in Northern Lakes Conference play.
The host Tigers, who had lost their last three matches to some stiff competition, improve to 7-5 overall. Warsaw also goes to 4-1 in NLC play. Wawasee drops to 6-7 overall and moves to 0-5 in NLC action.
Warsaw coach Rick Orban, whose team will host the NLC Tournament next week and then the sectional the week of Sept. 26, saw his veteran team show its mettle. The Tigers, who had six seniors in the lineup Tuesday night, dropped a total of just seven games on the five varsity courts.
“Our focus was to stay focused tonight,” said Orban. “We expected to win this match 5-0. We have a lot of experience and we are better at each spot.
“I wanted our guys to keep their level of play where it should be tonight. It was a matter of everyone for us playing the way they should, playing their best tennis and playing smart tennis.
“I was really happy with the way that we played.”
Warsaw came out of the gate ready to go. The hosts built a 3-0 lead in the opening set on all five courts to set the tone from the start versus the Warriors.
The Tigers got their first point of the night as seniors Hayden Steger and Ethan Hoff defeated Gram Perek and Mason Gray 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles in about 40 minutes.
Warsaw clinched the team win quickly as junior Colton Lind made it 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Dylan Staley at No. 1 singles. The No. 1 doubles team of seniors Ryan Wettschurack and Justin Stout then earned the clinching point minutes later with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Tim Conley and Evan Krueger.
Senior Andrew Gauger was the fourth court to finish for the Tigers. Gauger topped Nate Haines 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles.
The longest match of the evening, which took about 1:15 to complete, came at No. 3 singles. Senior David Homme stopped Nate Perek, who has been Wawasee’s most consistent player this season, by a 6-1, 6-3 final.
“This year, once again, it’s been a little tough once we have gotten into the NLC,” said Wawasee coach Vince Rhodes. “It’s a mental thing where our guys just need to get over the hump.
“The No. 1 thing for us tonight was to be competitive and score some games. A lot of it boils down to playing more in the offseason. That’s part of our problem. We just need to try and get over the hump and try and knock off Memorial and NorthWood in our last two NLC matches.”
Orban says his veteran group should have its eyes on big goals come postseason play.
“These kids as senior should have different goals this year,” noted Orban, whose program has won the last four sectional championships. “They should be thinking about winning a regional and seeing what we can do at semistate. I think that the NLC Tourney next week will be good for us. It will allow us to focus on individual spots to get ready for the postseason.”
Warsaw won the junior varsity action 9-1 Tuesday night. Winning in singles play for the Tigers were Bailey Buhrt, Kyler Bartol, Brian Elliott, Kanton Waddle and Dawson Villama. Winning in doubles action for Warsaw were the teams of Nolan Knight and Nick Marsh, Reuben Williams and Spencer Britton, Caleb Williams and Brandon Chan and Jake Kauffman and Jarett Orr.
Jacob Krugman won in singles play for the Warriors.
Warsaw, whose lone NLC loss was to Goshen, plays at NorthWood Thursday night and at Concord next Monday night to wrap up league play. Concord improved to 5-0 in NLC play with a 3-2 league win over Goshen Tuesday night.
Wawasee hosts NLC foe Elkhart Memorial Thursday evening in Syracuse.