Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Homestead's David Heiney returns the ball during Wednesday's IHSAA Boys Tennis Regional against Leo at Carroll. Heiney beat Eli Herran in No. 1 singles 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Thursday, October 05, 2017 1:00 am
Homestead 4 Leo 1
Senior seals it again in regional for Spartans
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
Homestead boys tennis player Will Milne waited three years for the feeling to return.
As a freshman, it was Milne's No. 3 singles match that clinched the regional title for the Spartans.
Now a senior, and with not quite as much pressure on the line, Milne's No. 1 doubles match with Bryant Zitlaw secured Homestead the decisive third point as the No. 4 Spartans defeated No. 6 Leo 4-1 at the Carroll tennis regional championship Wednesday.
“Freshman year, I think I was a little spoiled getting to semistate,” Milne said. “I figured, 'Oh, next year, I'll get to state,' and then losing in regionals sophomore and junior year, obviously wasn't fun. Coach (Kerry Mumma) told us to keep that feeling and just remember that for the next time we play them.
“I think we all realized that we didn't want to lose again so all the time we put in to the offseason really came down to this and I think it's great to see our hard work pay off.”
Homestead went up 2-1 after straight-set wins from Daniel Gilbert 6-1, 6-3 over Evan Roth at No. 3 singles and Tim Steiner and Nicolas Graber at No. 2 doubles 6-1, 6-0 over Jacob Hess and Ethan Harris.
Leo's Isaac Steiner gave the Lions their point, winning 6-3, 6-1 over Thomas Weir, who was also on the last Homestead regional championship team in 2014.
The situation meant that Homestead needed a win from Milne and Zitlaw or No. 1 singles David Heiney to clinch or Leo had to sweep with Josh Jakacki and Sam McDaniel at No. 1 doubles and Eli Herran at No. 1 singles. Both went three sets.
“In the first set, we came out feeling really good,” Milne said. “We were playing like we knew we had to play and it went pretty well and in the second set, we took our feet off the pedal and let them come back and they started changing up some parts of their game so that threw us off, too, playing two back, throwing up a lot of lobs. When they got that set, we regrouped, realized we had to change some stuff, go back to what we were doing in the first set and it ended up in the first set.”
With the third point, the pressure would have seemed to be off Heiney but the frustration was mounting.
Finally, after nearly two hours and 20 minutes of playing, Heiney threw his racquet in the air in celebration after Herran's ball hit just outside the corner, a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win.
“I got a little down on myself at the end of the second and beginning of the third,” Heiney said, “and then I told myself that I'd have to go down with both guns blazing so I gave one last final effort and it worked out.
“(Herran) kept a lot of balls in play. He's not usually that consistent, he plays with more power and today, he took a little off and kept more balls in play. I think that's why he might have had the cramps come in (in the third set) because it was a huge grind.”
The Spartans will face No. 20 Delta in Saturday's semistate.