Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Eli Herran, playing North Central's Timothy Brady, helped Leo finish 18-1 last season and advance to the team semistate. @cutline: hits a return to Timothy Brady of North Central in #2 singles, in the boys tennis semi-state at Homestead, Saturday.
Friday, August 11, 2017 1:00 am
5 to watch season prevIews
Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette
The usual suspects look primed to contend for the area's top spot. Leo, Homestead and Carroll finished 1-2-3 in the final 2016 District II rankings, while Warsaw was third in the final District III poll.
The Chargers graduated four seniors, but with two of the area's top players returning in Ethan Radke and Luke Stoffel, 24th-year coach Kyle Stoffel likes where his team stands – as well as the caliber of tennis in the area as a whole.
“This little surge is absolutely the strongest I've ever seen the Fort Wayne group as a whole,” Kyle Stoffel said. “You've got three really strong teams and some really good players around them.”
Eli Herran, Leo: The junior played at No. 2 singles last year for the Lions, who advanced to the team semistate a year ago. Herran finished runner-up in the men's open City Tennis singles tournament on Monday.
Ethan Radke, Carroll: Back for his fourth season on varsity, Radke will return to No. 1 singles for the Chargers.
David Heiney, Homestead: In his first two years, this Spartan junior earned first-team All-State honors.
Isaac Steiner, Leo: Despite suffering a knee injury during an offseason competition, the junior will battle Herran for the top spot in the Lions' lineup after going unbeaten at No. 3 singles last year.
Nishanth Reddy, Canterbury: The junior won nearly 20 matches during seven USTA offseason tournaments, including four victories over foes ranked in the region's top 11.
Leo: While the Lions finished 18-1 last season, they will need to replace their No. 1 singles player from a year ago in Eli Steiner.
Carroll: Radke and Luke Stoffel give the Chargers strength in singles play.
Homestead: Likely Leo's biggest challenge in regionals, Heiney and three-time sectional champion doubles team Thomas Weir and Will Milne should provide reliable points for the Spartans.
Snider: The senior-laden lineup looks poised to claim the SAC title, although Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers will provide the biggest challenges.
Blackhawk Christian: The Braves can rely on upperclassmen leadership aplenty with six seniors on the roster this fall.
Tourney pairings on TV: For the first time, the IHSAA will televise pairings for all 64 tennis sectionals. The show will air at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 on IHSAAtv.org.
More instruction: Coaches will be permitted to talk with players between points during tournaments this season. This one-year trial will be limited to invitationals, round-robin tournaments and conference tournaments. Conversations are limited to 20 seconds and should not disrupt the match flow.
Last Saturday in August: Leo, Homestead, Carroll and Canterbury will participate in the John Shirley Invitational at Indianapolis North Central on Aug. 26. This 16-team tournament annually draws many of the state's top teams.
The A-teams: Adams Central and Angola return several varsity contributors from a year ago and stand as favorites in the ACAC and NECC, respectively.
Old faces, new places: Former South Side coach Rick Hanauer will take over the program at Concordia this fall, and former Elmhurst coach Chris Beaty is set to lead Snider. Tim Kidder, an assistant boys basketball coach at Central Noble, will guide the Cougars this season.