One great thing about tennis, Homestead coach Michael Hower said Saturday, is the second serve. If a player's first serve attempt is a fault, he gets a chance to try it again before losing the point.
That's what came to his mind after the No. 4 Spartans (17-4) beat Westview 5-0 on their home courts Saturday morning to claim a semistate title and advance to the state finals that begin Friday. On this same weekend last year, the Spartans were upset by Indianapolis North Central 3-2, and highly ranked Homestead didn't get to make the trip down to Indianapolis.
“Our seniors, being able to get that second chance (to play at state), was huge,” Hower said. “The disappointment, of course, is we face Carmel in the first round, which is what happened two years ago. It's exciting, and we have a lot to do this week.”
Seniors Tim Steiner and Landon Sather (21-1) were the first off the court Saturday, beating Westview's Brady Hostetler and Will Clark 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles. Freshman Stephen Meier also won quickly at No. 2 singles, beating Elijah Hostetler 6-0, 6-1.
“I just tried to wear him down and make every shot, and try to hit a lot of good angles, and then come into the net and finish the point,” said Meier, who was playing in his first semistate match. “I'm proud of the end of both sets I just finished, and how I didn't let him come back. I'm glad I just finished it.”
Jared Sagan beat Brennan Beachy 6-2, 6-1, at No. 3 singles, and the No. 2 doubles team of Sebastian Cowan and Alex Graber beat Tim Brandenberger and Isaac Rogers 6-3, 6-1.
Senior Thaddeus Dressel (15-7) was the last to come off the court, beating Isaiah Hostetler 6-3, 6-3.
“It went really well, I played semi-decent,” Dressel said after his match. “I thought I played better yesterday during practice. But I think I'll play better later on in the tournament, at state.”
Homestead will face No. 1 Carmel in the state quarterfinals at noon Friday. The matches will be played on the Greyhounds' home courts. The state semifinals and finals will be played at Indianapolis North Central on Saturday.
“It feels really good (to be going to state), especially since last year we unfortunately lost to North Central. It feels good to go back for a third time in my four years at Homestead,” Dressel said. “I'm just excited to hang out with (my team) again.”
Hower said that beating Westview for the school's 21st semistate title was no more intense than the 4-1 victories in regionals over Carroll and Bishop Dwenger. Homestead now ranks second in all-time semistate titles behind only North Central, which won its 26th by defeating Delta on Homestead's courts Saturday.
“I think the postseason regional was definitely so difficult, with good teams involved, that today felt like just the next day. Do it again,” Hower said. “Westview was a great team. They made state last year. They definitely played well. We just felt like with what we did this week, we could definitely repeat that on Saturday.”