CULVER — Coming off last week’s convincing defeat at the hands of Culver Military, Plymouth tennis coach Michael Delp knew the only chance for his team at Tuesday’s regional was to put pressure on the Eagles early.
Gabe Vervynckt earned the win at 1 singles, and Jack Holloway and Kendall Fosler went blow for blow in the first set of 1 doubles play with CMA twins Alec and Austin Proeh, but it wasn’t enough to rattle the hosts, and the 14th-ranked Eagles knocked out the Pilgrims 4-1 in a rain-delayed CMA Regional semifinal at the Gable Tennis Complex.
CMA now looks to three-peat at regional as it advances to face Warsaw, a 5-0 winner over Peru Tuesday, at today’s regional finals.
“Whenever we play Plymouth I expect it to be a fight,” said Culver Military tennis coach Alan Loehr. “However, the fact that we were able to run off three quick points at 2 and 3 singles and 1 doubles takes an enormous amount of pressure out of our play that we don’t normally have the luxury of doing. Typically, the match is still in the balance, but to be able to run off three points that quickly is a tremendous relief when you’re playing a team like Plymouth, who you know the further into the match you get, the bigger advantage they have.”
“We knew we wouldn’t sneak up on them,” said Delp. “We didn’t play poorly, we just never quite won enough of those what I call even-up points — 30-all, deuce points — that give you chances to win games. If you win enough of those, you’ll win games and you get a few of those key games and now you get a set. You have to put pressure on a good team if you’re the underdog. We just really didn’t do that enough.”
The Eagles got steady play from No. 2 freshman Sam Concannon, who put away Plymouth junior Matt Flynn 6-0, 6-1, as well as No. 3 senior Eric Maudhuit, who handed Pilgrims freshman John Hunter a 6-0, 6-2 loss.
The Proeh brothers earned a 6-3, 6-1 win over Holloway and Fosler after splitting sets in Plymouth’s and CMA’s regular season-closer last Tuesday at Plymouth to seal the team win for the Eagles.
Kameron Eisenhour and Ryan Johnson stretched Arturo Lizarraga and Jorge Segura to three sets at 2 doubles but succumbed 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to bring the score to its final margin.
“We competed everywhere. The kids gave their absolute best effort,” said Delp. “They were focused, and we ran into a team that just physically has better tennis skills than we do.”
While Plymouth bows out of the team tournament, fourth-year Pilgrims senior Vervycnkt remains alive in the individual state tournament with his 6-3, 6-1 victory over Quinlan Smith Tuesday.
He will play the winner of tonight’s match between North Judson’s Thomas Simon and Columbia City’s Derek Hinen on Thursday.
“That’s a tough spot to be in for CMA, knowing that you’ve got to play tomorrow,” said Delp of Tuesday’s 1 singles match. “The young man is a good player, but he’s already been beaten in the state tournament. I’m not saying he didn’t play hard, but he definitely probably changed his strategy a little bit in the second set, so that’s why the set maybe went a little quicker.”
“Gabe has got to go up there as one of my all-time favorites as one of the kids that I’ve coached,” added Delp. “I mean I love all my guys, but Gabe’s just about as workmanlike as you can be. You don’t have to motivate him, you don’t have to mentally prepare him. You can talk strategy with him because you know he’s going to be focused every point, and you don’t have to do some of the things maybe you have to do with some of the other players. He’s been the rock for four years now.”
Also remaining alive in individual tournament play were Triton’s Jeff Ross and Pete Kauffman, who advanced undefeated in No. 1 doubles play out of the Bremen Sectional with a victory over the Lions’ tandem of Nate Strehler and Joe Zeltwanger last week. Ross and Kauffman earned a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Maconaquah’s Chris Ayers and Adam Harts following the rain delay Tuesday.
“We had the rain delay, and I just felt like we came out a little nervous afterward,” said Triton coach Allen Peckham. “I knew that for Triton we were in some uncharted territory in the state tournament and I think we wanted to do well. I thought we started a little nervous, a little tentative, but we got going a little at a time to the point where I felt like we finally got control of the set and the match.”
“All in all, I was really proud of what we did,” he added.
The Pilgrims close out the season at 14-5, meanwhile, and bid goodbye to Fosler, Holloway and Eisenhour as well as Connor Snyder.
“Two of those losses were to CMA, who could very easily make a deep run.. You’re talking about a team that could very easily make it to the state finals this year,” Delp said. “They’re a great team, and we lost three other matches at 3-2. We only returned two players from last year’s varsity line so from that respect we had a great season.
“We’re going to miss our seniors, but with what we’ve got coming back and some of the guys we’ve got coming up we’ll work hard… to get up to the level of some of the teams we’d like to compete with.”
CMA moves to 17-2 and will look for a third straight regional title with a rematch against Warsaw tonight, weather permitting. The Eagles beat Warsaw 4-1 early in the season and hope to get off to a fast start today.
“We beat Warsaw 4-1 early in the regular season, and as I said to our guys, on paper it looks like a match that we should win,” Loehr said. “I think in this match it will be important that we get on top early… to take out what I call the sixth man factor for Warsaw, the potential for their crowd to get involved. That’s a good reason for us to get out on top in a regional final.”
• CULVER ACADEMIES
BOYS TENNIS REGIONAL
CULVER MILITARY 4, PLYMOUTH 1
SINGLES: 1. Gabe Vervynckt (P) beat Quinlan Smith, 6-3, 6-1; 2. Samuel Concannon (CMA) beat Matt Flynn, 6-0, 6-1; 3. Eric Maudhuit (CMA) beat John Hunter, 6-0, 6-2.
DOUBLES: 1. Alec Proeh-Austin Proeh (CMA) beat Jack Holloway-Kendall Fosler, 6-3, 6-1; 2. Arturo Lizarraga-Jorge Segura (CMA) beat Kameron Eisenhour-Ryan Johnson, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
Records: CMA 17-2, Plymouth 14-5 (final)
WARSAW 5, PERU 0
SINGLES: 1. Kyle Wettschurack (W) beat Joe Comerford, 6-1, 6-4; 2. Evan Miller (W) beat Logan Primerano, 6-1, 6-3; 3. Alek Jansen (W) beat Austin Finicle, 6-1, 6-1.
DOUBLES: 1. A.J. Herendeen-Sam Rice (W) beat Jack Zvers-Brandon Bates, 6-0, 6-4; 2. Will Petro-Connor Singrey (W) beat Kreighton Ray-Grant Ebert, 6-1, 6-2.
Records: Warsaw 13-2, Peru 9-12.
Jeff Ross-Pete Kauffman (Triton) beat Chris Ayers-Adam Harts (Maconaquah), 6-3, 6-2.
Thomas Simon (North Judson) beat Connor Eichanuer (Manchester), 6-2, 6-0.
Derek Hinen (Columbia City) beat Nick Kindig (Tippecanoe Valley), 6-3, 6-2.