BREMEN — Faced with last-minute revelations of injury, the young NorthWood boys tennis team had to shuffle its lineup around.
Despite an untested partnership, Shawn Stahley and Austin Sanders were competitive at No. 2 doubles, taking seven games from their opponents, but it was too little and too late as Bremen swept the visiting Panthers in a 5-0 home win at DeSantis Courts in Bremen Monday.
“Jason Linhart, normally at the No. 1 doubles position, has a back injury, has a pinched nerve so we had to make a switch tonight, and it was kind of unfortunate because we didn’t get the kids a chance to play together,” said NorthWood boys tennis coach Tif Schwartz. “After the first set, Quinn and Devyn played really well together. They came back and got a few games and got back in the match again. I was very impressed with them. They’re both freshmen so that says a lot about them. My No. 2 doubles, they are just fighters.”
Stahley and Sanders extended Bremen juniors Joe Zeltwanger and Nate Strehler to 19 games and were right in the second set at 5-4 before the more experienced Lions tandem put them away 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the sweep for the home team.
Brennan Angle took three games from Bremen No. 1 Briley Bollenbacher in a 6-2, 6-1 loss, the Panthers claimed a single game on each of the other two singles courts, and Quinn Stillson and Devyn Maugel claimed three games in the second set of their loss to Lions No. 1 doubles partners Austin Huff and T.J. Bayer before succumbing 6-0, 6-3.
“We played well today, we really did,” said Bremen head coach Andrew Rohde. “At 2 doubles we could tell from just the warm-up that NorthWood had two quality players at 2 doubles, so we were really pleased with the way we played there. That is one of the closer matches and really is one of the better wins because they had some quality people there. It was real nice, top to bottom. This was one of the best matches we’ve played all year.”
It was a good win for Bremen, which moved over .500 to 4-3 on the season and pushed its win streak to three matches after Northern State Conference victories over Jimtown and New Prairie last week. The Lions look to move to 3-0 in conference play at John Glenn Wednesday and will try to keep the wins coming at their home tournament this weekend, headed into tough NSC matches with Triton and Knox next week.
“We have two wins in the conference season, so we’re very proud about that,” said Rohde. “The Jimtown win was a huge win for us. The New Prairie match was a little disappointing because coming off the Jimtown match where we had played so well; we really didn’t play as well against New Prairie as we should have.
“I know Glenn lost a lot, but it’ll be kind of hard knowing what to expect coming out of there. We’re trying to stay perfect in the conference right now. We’ll have a couple tough conference matches coming up next week with Triton and Knox. We expect that to be a real struggle for us, so we’re going to have to play our best to be competitive in those.”
The overwhelmingly young NorthWood squad remains winless at 0-6, meanwhile, and will play next in a Northern Lakes Conference match at Elkhart Memorial Thursday.
“We’re still building; we’re young,” said Schwartz. “We’ve got nine freshmen this year, two of them we’re playing at the No. 1 doubles position. We’re showing signs of improvement all the time, which is a good thing.
“We’re trying hard; it’s not for lack of effort. I think if we can just get one win then we can get over that hump and just kind of get excited about it and keep moving forward.”
• BREMEN 5, NORTHWOOD 0
Singles: Briley Bollenbacher beat Brennan Angle 6-2, 6-1; 2. Brad Foster beat Ben Zercher 6-0, 6-1; 3. Wes Burkholder beat Mitchell Keiser 6-1, 6-0.
Doubles: 1. Austin Huff-T.J. Bayer beat Quinn Stillson-Devyn Maugel 6-0, 6-3; 2. Joe Zeltwanger-Nate Strehler beat Shawn Stahley-Austin Sanders 6-3, 6-4.
Records: Bremen 4-3, NorthWood 0-6
JV score: Bremen 5, NorthWood 2