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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Senior Will Milne, left, and sophomore Bryant Zitlaw form Homestead's No. 1 doubles team. Their focus today will be on Bishop Dwenger.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017 1:00 am

Spartans doubles team keeps it fun

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Tennis regionals

Carroll Regional

4 p.m. today

Homestead (17-1) vs. Bishop Dwenger (16-7), Leo (18-1) vs. Adams Central (15-3)

Individuals: David Musselman, South Adams vs. Auden Eckert, Huntington North

Doubles: Gabe Eisenhut/Mason Heller, Bluffton vs. Noah Hunley/Samuel Laird, Wayne

Finals: 4 p.m. Wednesday

Concord Regional

5 p.m. today

Angola (15-5) vs. Concord (13-2), Jimtown (18-4) vs. Westview (14-3)

Finals: 5 p.m. Wednesday

Ostensibly, Will Milne and Bryant Zitlaw may seem like an odd coupling. Milne is a senior, Zitlaw a sophomore. Zitlaw is 6 foot 4, Milne said he's “5-8 on a good day.” Milne is all about consistency and more talkative on a first meeting, while Zitlaw is more careful with his words but unleashes potent power serves and front-of-net slams.

Different as they may be, they have been a terrific pair on the court for the Homestead tennis team, which has a 17-1 record and is ranked fourth in the state heading into today's semifinal match against Bishop Dwenger (16-7) at the Carroll Regional.

The Spartans are solid from top to bottom, including singles players David Heiney, Thomas Weir and Daniel Gilbert. As for what makes the No. 1 doubles duo so good, Milne said: “We're pretty good friends off the court and that helps. We like to keep it fun on the court, not get down on each other and not get too serious. We have pretty compatible games, too. We're both comfortable rallying at the baseline and Bryant can cross and get anything at the net.”

They are complimentary of one another; Milne raves about how his partner's ability to intimidate opponents with his serve-and-volley game and Zitlaw appreciates Milne's consistency and mentorship.

Milne remembers what it was like when he was a sophomore, apprenticing under older doubles partner Jordan Andrews, and now he's returning the favor.

“He gives me a lot of advice,” Zitlaw said. “When I miss something, he gives me a lot of tips on what not to do and I can build my game off of that.”

That tutelage was evident even in Thursday's 6-0, 6-0 victory over Bishop Luers' Noah Brown and Garrett Scheiber, as the Spartans won a sectional title for the fourth straight year.

“It's actually pretty similar to when I was a sophomore and played with Jordan Andrews. He was a junior and I'm used to playing with someone older than me. I try to mentor (Zitlaw) and we both keep each other grounded,” Milne said. “I try and keep him stable. Like if either of us is missing shots, I remind him it's one point at a time.”

The Spartans' other doubles pair, Tim Steiner and Nicolas Graber, will try to help Homestead win its first state championship, though it ranks third in Indiana history with 29 regional titles. If Homestead advances today, it will face in the finals either Adams Central (15-3) or sixth-ranked Leo (18-1), the defending champion.

“We really try to take it one match at a time,” Milne said. “We can always think ahead but what really matters is getting through one match at a time because it is one-and-done; if we lose then we're out so there's really no use thinking forward.”

jcohn@jg.net