Lions, Plymouth advance at Bremen

BREMEN — No big surprises here.
The host Lions shut out LaVille on all five courts, and 15-time defending sectional champion Plymouth earned another 5-0 victory over John Glenn to set up today’s championship rematch at the Bremen Boys Tennis Sectional at DeSantis Courts Thursday evening.
Fresh off a competitive 4-1 win over Triton in the tourney opener Wednesday, the Lions beat LaVille in straight 6-0 sets on all courts Thursday to advance to the championship for a fourth straight year opposite Plymouth.
“We were pretty happy with the way that it turned out. Obviously we’re relieved that we got through Triton and LaVille, and we look forward to our next match,” said Bremen tennis coach Andrew Rohde.
“It was just a great team effort.”
The inexperienced Lancers closed out a winless season against the Northern State Conference-rival Lions without taking a single game. But head coach Michael Sumpter focused on the positives for his young team following the match.
“Our goal this year was to come out and to work as hard as we possibly can,” he said. “Matthew Dickson played the best that he has all year at No. 1 singles for us. Our 2 singles Adam Baker was very consistent, just like he has been. Chris (Nicodemus) at 3 kind of struggled today, it was an off day for him, but he did work hard. I’m very proud of my doubles for being so inexperienced and brand-new, they tried to be aggressive, they moved a lot today, they did a lot of positive things.
“For us, our victory is we moved, we were aggressive, we had no fear, and we at least worked hard. That’s our victory.”
Meanwhile in Thursday’s other semifinal, the Pilgrims moved a step closer to their 16th straight sectional championship with a 5-0 win over Glenn.
The Falcons didn’t give anything away, however, coming out strong against the perennial champions.
Calvin Kretchmer extended Matt Flynn to 10 games in the first set at 2 singles, and Drew McDonald and Evan Rhodes took a trio of games from Jack Holloway and Kendall Fosler in the opening set at 1 doubles, while Ben Weiss and Drew Sheffer went eight games in both sets of a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Tom Felke and Max Holloway, and Hunter Jaworski challenged Plymouth’s Connor Snyder all the way in an eventual 6-4, 6-4 loss.
“I thought we competed a lot better tonight than we have in previous years,” said Glenn head coach Chris Horvath. “We took some games off them, and some first sets could have gone either way in a couple of the matches. I didn’t think we competed quite as well in the second set, but I thought we came out and really played hard and didn’t let down and give up before we even got here.”
“I think Plymouth stepped up their game a little bit in a couple of the matches, and we kind of let down (in the second set),” he added. “Being close in that first set when we lost I think we kind of let down a little bit. But our 3 singles player played hard the entire time. He went 4 and 4, so I was proud of him for that.”
Once Plymouth settled in, the Pilgrims made short work of their second sets as Flynn shut out Kretchmer 6-0 in the second set at 2 singles, and Holloway and Fosler put away McDonald and Rhodes 6-1 in their final set.
“I thought we came out with a little bit of sectional nerves. It’s a lose-and-you’re-done kind of mentality, and we definitely played kind of a little slow and not really trusting our shots the way we normally do,” said Plymouth coach Michael Delp. “I thought we did a much better job in the second set after we got that first one under our belts. Bremen’s had two matches out here, and obviously it’s their home court, so it’s good to be able to get one under your belt and be ready to go for the championship.”
About the only real surprise at Thursday’s semifinals was the amount of substitutions in sectional play.
Chase Bair subbed in for senior Joe Jaworski at 1 singles for Glenn after Jaworski rolled an ankle earlier in the week, and Gabe Vervynckt put him away in two quick 6-0 sets.
Felke, an erstwhile 2 singles player for Plymouth, subbed in with Max Holloway at 2 doubles with Kameron Eishour yet to be released to play after sustaining a concussion over the weekend, and Snyder finished off Plymouth’s semifinal win versus Jaworski on the 3 singles court, a heartwarming performance at the tail end of a difficult senior year in which a broken hand derailed some of Snyder’s hopes before the Pilgrims’ season even began.
“Kameron (Eisehour) is still out with a concussion so we knew we were going to play Max. We let Connor play today and Tom. They’ve invested just like all the other guys. It’s not meant to be disrespectful or anything like that, but it’s different than other sports where you get to sub guys in and out; you’ve got to make that decision early on. And these guys, it’s not like there’s a big, huge difference between them and our other guys. Especially Tom, he’s played most of the year (at varsity),” said Delp.
“Those guys work hard and put in the hours and don’t always get to play. Especially Connor, he’s been dealing with the emotions of that at times. He’s a good kid and he loves the game and he loves these guys, so you want to praise guys like that that invest in the game and the program.”
Bremen also did a fair share of substituting as Tyler LaFlash and Austin Ingle bumped up at 2 doubles for a win over Erik Eggebrecht and Dennis Feitz, and freshman Bryce DeVine made his sectional debut at 3 singles with a straight set win over Nicodemus.
“It’s great that those guys got a chance to play not only in some varsity action because they’ve played some throughout the year, but sectional matches are a little bit different,” said Rohde. “So it’s nice for them to get that experience. They played well, and it’s great to see some things that you can work on in a varsity match as well and kind of work on those things. But I give them a lot of credit for stepping into a varsity match and still coming through.”
Glenn closes out a solid season at 5-8 after a two-win season in 2011 and is expected to return five of its top seven next year, while seniors Joe Jaworski and Ben Weiss bid goodbye to the Falcons.
“We’ve got six sophomores coming back next year and five of them played varsity this year, so we’re expecting big things out of them next year,” Horvath said. “They love to play; they’re out there all the time in the summer. We’re going to keep continuing to improve, and we’re looking for a good season next year.”
The young Lancers look to build on the experience they gained this year as well as LaVille is expected to return its entire varsity lineup next year.
“That’s the cool thing, we get everybody back so hopefully next year it won’t be near as bad. I know that we have a lot of growth, we’re very inexperienced, but at least we have a lot of kids that are excited. They want to hit balls, they want to get better, and they really want to do more,” said Sumpter. “With that mentality and that aggressive mindset… I’m excited. We’ve got kids that want to play, so let’s play.”
Meanwhile, Plymouth and Bremen square off tonight in their fourth straight Bremen Sectional championship match.
The Pilgrims beat the Lions on all five courts in a match at Plymouth earlier in the year, but Bremen has shown some strong play throughout its lineup at various times this year, and with the championship atmosphere and the Lions playing on their home court, Delp isn’t expecting another 5-0 decision tonight.
“We beat Triton 3-2 and they beat Triton 4-1 in the regular season and last night so we know it was on our home courts, and they’re going to be ready to go,” said the Plymouth boss. “All that first time does is give you a little familiarity with the guys, but that’s a thing of the past. We know that they’ll give us everything we need. We’ll talk about maintaining the right intensity, showing up with the right mindset, knowing that sometimes in matches like this guys are thinking about you all day and how they’re going to beat you and they come out on fire.”
“It very likely will be a 3-2 match, and we’ll also tell our guys you’ve got to be ready to be that guy that finishes it off,” he added. “You’ve got to prepare yourself for that mindset so you don’t get into it and then get overcome by it.”
With tonight’s Homecoming football game against Knox, Rohde is hoping the festivities don’t add another obstacle to the already daunting task of dethroning Plymouth.
“It’s Homecoming week and we’ve got a bonfire tonight,” he said. “I just told them enjoy the festivities, but also be smart about your decisions tonight because it’s going to affect you tomorrow. I just want them to come out ready to play. Whether we win or lose, I just want them to play well. If we win and we play well that’s great, if we lose and we play well that’s great. We just want to play well, that’s what it comes down to.”
At Bremen
SINGLES: 1. Brad Foster (B) beat Matthew Dickson 6-0, 6-0; 2. Jalen Bayer (B) beat Adam Baker 6-0, 6-0; 3. Bryce DeVine (B) beat Chris Nicodemus 6-0, 6-0.
DOUBLES: 1. Nate Strehler-Joe Zeltwanger (B) beat Pierce Frick-Brandon Haisley 6-0, 6-0; 2. Tyler LaFlash-Austin Ingle (B) beat Erik Eggebrecht-Dennis Feitz (L) 6-0, 6-0.
SINGLES: 1. Gabe Vervynckt (P) beat Chase Bair 6-0, 6-0; 2. Matt Flynn (P) beat Calvin Kretchmer 6-4, 6-0; 3. Connor Snyder (P) beat Hunter Jaworski (G) 6-4, 6-4.
DOUBLES: 1. Jack Holloway-Kendall Fosler (P) beat Drew McDonald-Evan Rhodes 6-3, 6-1; 2. Tom Felke-Max Holloway (P) beat Ben Weiss-Drew Sheffer 6-2, 6-2.
Records: Plymouth 13-4, Bremen 14-5, Glenn 5-8 (final)