CULVER — Scouting Columbia City, Plymouth knew to expect strong second sets from the Eagles.
Pilgrims No. 3 singles player Luke Bumpus held off his surging opponent during a competitive second set, as did Jordan Scheetz and Connor Flynn at 1 doubles and Matt Flynn and Joe Knapp at 2 doubles, while No. 2 Lane Singleton recovered from a second-set loss for an eventual tiebreaker win, and the Pilgrims grabbed a 4-1 Culver Military Academy Regional semifinal win Tuesday at the Gable Tennis Complex.
Host CMA claimed a 5-0 win in straight sets at all positions over Wabash in the other semifinal Tuesday to set up a championship match between Culver and Plymouth at the first-ever CMA Tennis Regional today at 5 p.m.
Sheets and Connor Flynn beat Columbia City’s Devin Moore and Ryan Flauding in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3, while Knapp and Matt Flynn beat Brandon Gay and Matt Rethlake 6-1, 6-4, and Bumpus put away Blake Fearnow in another 6-1, 6-4 decision to give the Pilgrims their third match point of the day and seal the semifinal win.
“It was a good day; any victory at the regional level is a good thing,” said Plymouth Head Boys Tennis Coach Michael Delp. “The doubles came out and really played well. We knew from scores and just talking to people that they were — I don’t want to say a second-set team — but we knew that they had lost some first sets pretty lopsided to some people and then came back on teams, and they tried to do that today. Sometimes you just relax and you play a little bit more aggressive and our guys did a good job of matching that in that second set and not letting it get into that third set where a couple swing points in there, a couple games, and things could’ve gotten a lot more tricky.
“Same thing with Luke. Luke did a heck of a job… he just did a nice job of battling mentally and finishing things off. “
With the Plymouth team victory already guaranteed, Singleton earned a narrow victory in an extended third-set tiebreaker over Gabe Boles, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(8-6).
Similarly, Culver Military already had three match points in the books when Eric Maudhuit and Will Stackhouse found themselves in battles at 2 and 3 singles, respectively.
Stackhouse beat Wabash’s Edward Dillard in two 6-4 sets, while Maudhuit overcame David Driscoll in two 7-5 sets to complete the sweep of the Apaches.
“I thought we’d win five-luv. At this level of play we got tight on a couple of courts, and it got closer than what was comfortable, but our guys gutted it out at 2 and 3 singles,” said CMA coach Alan Loehr. “They had a couple good athletes that chased balls.”
The lone disappointing outcome for Plymouth at Tuesday’s match was at 1 singles, where Gabe Vervynckt was trumped in two competitive sets by Columbia City’s Derek Hinan 6-3, 6-4. With the loss, Vervycnkt falls out of contention to advance individually out of the CMA Regional, while Plymouth’s 1 doubles team remains in contention to advance even if the Pilgrims fall at today’s championships.
“Gabe played almost a mirror image of himself, only a little taller, maybe just a little quicker than he is,” said Delp. “Another basketball player, very conservative-type player. Gabe has played kids all year that are more offensive-minded, which he tends to use that pace and he doesn’t generate all that pace himself. So he’s still in the growing process of finding that game where he’s got to be maybe the aggressor and generate that pace. It was disappointing. Gabe is capable of playing better. I don’t want to take anything away from the Columbia City kid; he played solid. But Gabe will grow from that and learn, and the nice thing is I know that Gabe will be mentally focused for tomorrow and use some of that frustration and just be ready to go for tomorrow’s match.”
Today’s championship match between the Eagles and the Pilgrims is a rematch of a Clay Sectional Semifinal last year in which CMA claimed a 3-2 victory. Indeed, the defending regional champion Eagles have knocked Plymouth out of semistate contention each of the last five years stretching back to 2006.
“Wabash is very well-coached by an excellent player and tactician in Dan Ford,” said Loehr. “Having said that, I’m just glad to have played them first before we play Plymouth in this regional final because no matter what the records are and the level of play, et cetera, this is likely going to be a close match tomorrow. It just historically is. If our kids are loose and play smart, we should be the most competitive on the singles courts. Plymouth doubles are always going to give us a challenge. Furthermore, as I said obviously it would be neat to get the regional title on our home court. It’s the the first time that we’ve ever hosted a regional in the history of the tournament. I think that’s an extra bonus for us.”
“We have not gotten CMA at the regional level, and they’re pretty talented again this year,” said Delp. “But it’s one of those things where I know our guys love that moment, and I know their guys love it so we expect a competitive match, and it should be a fun match.”
CULVER MILITARY ACADEMY 5, WABASH 0
Singles: 1. Wilson Wu beat Justin Middleton 6-3, 6-2; 2. Eric Maudhuit beat David Driscoll 7-5, 7-5; Will Stackhouse beat Edward Dillard 6-4, 6-4
Doubles: 1. Quinlan Smith-Jorge Segura beat Stephen Eilts-Jared Boone 6-1, 6-0; 2. Jack Mitzell-Aaron Arvizu beat Breyton Nealis-Jack Stein 6-0, 6-2
Records: CMA 14-5, Wabash 13-3 (final)
COLUMBIA CITY 1
Singles: 1. Derek Hinan (CC) beat Gabe Vervynckt 6-3, 6-4; 2. Lane Singleton (P) beat Gabe Boles, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(8-6); 3. Luke Bumpus (P) beat Blake Fearnow, 6-1, 6-4
Doubles: 1. Jordan Sheets-Connor Flynn (P) beat Devin Moore-Ryan Flauding 6-0, 6-3; 2. Matt Flynn-Joe Knapp (P) beat Brandon Gay-Matt Rethlake 6-1, 6-4
Records: Plymouth 15-3, Columbia City 12-9 (final)
Non-Team Doubles: AJ Herendeen-Sam Rice (Warsaw) beat Adam Harts-Chris Ayers (Maconaquah), 6-3, 6-0