ELKHART – It’s a good thing that the Concord High School tennis courts have lights.
The host Minutemen and Warsaw, with a conference championship on the line, put them to good use in an electric marathon match Monday evening
The two teams went toe-to-toe, back-and-forth for better than three hours before Concord came up with a hard-earned 3-2 win in the Northern Lakes Conference finale for both teams.
The Minutemen improve to 11-3 overall and earn the NLC regular season title with a perfect 7-0 mark in league play. Warsaw falls to 8-6 overall and finishes at 5-2 in league action.
Just how close was this one?
Four of the five matches in the tussle went three sets.
Concord took the tough win by claiming wins on three of the four courts that went the distance.
“It comes down to four courts went three sets and Concord won three of those matches,” said Warsaw coach Rick Orban. “Concord is a good team and they believed that they were going to win. In a match like this it comes down to I want this so bad and I think that Concord had that mentality tonight.
“It was a good match, but I’m disappointed for our guys. Our seniors had a chance to win a share of the NLC. I think that we should have won this match. I don’t think that we played up to our ability.”
Concord took a 1-0 lead as junior Will Boyer outlasted junior Colton Lind 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in a tense matchup on the No. 1 singles court.
The Tigers evened the scored a short time later as its No. 2 doubles duo of senior Hayden Steger and sophomore Spencer Britton posted a 7-6 (7-1), 6-0 win over senior Jake Lovette and sophomore Freddy Buckingham.
The hosts claimed the win and the NLC championship with back-to-back three set wins at No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles. The Concord team of senior Nathan Hermon and freshman Travis Hermon topped seniors Ryan Wettschurack and Justin Stout 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in No. 1 doubles play. Sophomore Alex Serwatka of the Minutemen regrouped to rally back and defeat senior Andrew Gauger 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1 on the No. 2 singles court.
Warsaw got its second point of the night as senior David Homme outlasted sophomore Nate Slabach 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 3 singles action.
The Minutemen, coached by Todd Denton, finished 11-5 overall and 5-2 in the NLC a year ago.
Orban, whose team also lost a 4-1 final to Goshen in NLC play, now says his team must refocus on bigger goals. The three-day NLC Tournament begins Wednesday at Warsaw and then the Tigers will be a huge favorite in their own sectional next week.
“I think that this did hurt our guys,” noted Orban. “I hope that it got their attention and that we learned a lesson here tonight. We need to pick up our play and we need to play harder. This team can still do some great things in the NLC Tournament this week and then in the postseason.”
The Warsaw junior varsity beat Concord 7-3. Winners in singles play for the Tigers were Kyler Bartol, Caleb Williams and Ethan Hoff. Posting doubles wins for Warsaw were the teams of Nolan Knight and Nick Marsh, Reuben Williams and Brian Elliott, Brandon Chan and Jarret Orr and Jake Kauffman and Kanton Waddle.
Both Warsaw and Concord will compete in the NLC Tournament starting Wednesday at WCHS. The tourney continues on Thursday before concluding on Saturday.