DUNLAP – NorthWood could have used Roger Federer Wednesday afternoon.
After making a shoutout call to the Swiss tennis superstar on Twitter – to which none was returned – NorthWood couldn’t manufacture the hype it needed in a slow start against Westview in the finals of the Concord Boys Tennis Regional Wednesday afternoon.
In an eerie parallel to the Sept. 16 dual where Westview won 3-2, the exact same score panned out in the regional final in favor of the Warriors, and all three wins came once again on the same courts.
Coming into the regional finals, NorthWood had only lost one dual match all season, that to Westview. The Warriors won at one and three singles along with two doubles in its head-to-head matchup just over three weeks ago, and then saw those same courts win Wednesday, giving the Warriors its first regional title in 12 years.
Electric starts on both its one singles and two doubles courts had the Warriors up early, and NorthWood’s other courts were noticing. Kurtis Davis stunned Wes Troyer right out of the gate, taking a 6-1 first set in less than a half hour, and jumped up with a quick lead in the second set. Troyer, as he did so many times during the season, battled back and made it a game with some great rallies to tie the second set at five-all. Davis, however, held serve and then put away Troyer 7-5.
That became the pivotal court as the Westview two dubs team of Will Clark and Brady Hostetler had already polished off Bryce Harner and Treyton Martin two and one for Westview’s first point.
NorthWood countered the doubles point with Ben Vincent at two singles. The junior wasted little time jumping out to a first game win at 6-1, and made the adjustments in the second set as Justin Schwartz made several unforced errors in a 6-1 clincher. The win was notable for NorthWood as Vincent finished his season 25-0 at two singles, and didn’t lose a set the entire season. Vincent repeated as the Northern Lakes Conference No. 2 singles champion and didn’t have a blemish to his name.
“He’s just solid,” said a very emotional NorthWood head coach Tif Schwartz. “It’s been so good to see him play. To not drop a set this year is huge. It really is such a great accomplish for him to go undefeated and not drop a match or set, that’s amazing. So that is nice to be able to have that to come back to for next year. We’ll definitely need him.”
While Davis was exiting the court a winner, his No. 3 singles teammate Isaiah Hostetler was nearing the punctuation mark against Chase Horner. The NorthWood senior looked to be on his way in the first set, taking a 5-4 lead, but Hostetler, just a freshman, rallied to take the final three games and grab a 7-5 dagger. Hostetler quickly raced out to a 5-2 lead and closed it, 6-2, with his teammates on the edges of their bleacher seats under the shade of the Concord awnings.
NorthWood would keep its tennis season alive via the individual tournament as its No. 1 doubles team of Jack Wysong and Landon Holland rallied to beat Tim Brandenberger and Elijah Hostetler 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a very emotion-filled match for the Panther duo.
The two will come back to Concord Thursday to take on Northridge’s Aaron Cripe and Evan Nay in the individual sectional. NorthWood owns two wins against Northridge this season.
“Again, we play Northridge who is a familiar opponent,” stated Schwartz. “We’ve seen them already a couple times. It will definitely be a match. We’re going to have to come out ready to go and really play our game. I think it was nice for the guys to really come back. I think they got a little frustrated in the second set with themselves more so than with the way how Westview was playing. I think we just felt like we were giving away too many free points and I think we started to turn that around a little bit after we got started in the third set.”
NorthWood’s team season, however, comes to a crashing halt. The team put together some kind of run, finishing 17-2 overall – the two losses both to Westview – but claiming its first-ever NLC team title and having Vincent and the one doubles team earn conference championships. The Panthers, along the NLC route, finished 35-0 in those seven dual matches, becoming the first team in conference history to run the gamut without a court loss. NorthWood later went on to win its fifth sectional title and first in 12 years.
Westview wins just its second regional title, the other coming in 2007. The Warriors will take on Marion, a 3-2 winner over Delta, in the Homestead Semi-state this Saturday.
Other area regional champions include Culver Academy, a 4-1 winner over Peru; LaPorte, a 3-2 winner over St. Joe; and Homestead, a 5-0 winner over Fort Wayne Carroll. West Noble’s Joel Mast claimed the individual sectional championship by default Wednesday per Troyer’s loss to Davis.