Chargers coach Kyle Stoffel said his team's 4-1 loss to Hamilton Southeastern in the final of the Carroll Boys Tennis Invitational was closer than the score would suggest. But he noted that the 5-0 semifinal victory over Mississinewa was also closer than one might think.
“It takes a little pressure off, because you know they're very good,” Stoffel said of facing second-ranked Hamilton Southeastern on Saturday. “So for our No. 1 (junior Griffin Martin) to win in straight sets is amazing. And everybody else, it's not like we pushed them to a super tie-break or anything, but at the same time we played well.”
Before defeating 14th-ranked Carroll in the final, the Royals beat No. 23 Homestead 5-0 in the semifinals. HSE also beat Concord 5-0 in the first round, meaning that the Royals went 14-1 in individual matches.
Homestead beat No. 22 Mississinewa 3-2 in the third-place match, getting a victory at No. 1 singles from sophomore Stephen Meier, who won 6-1, 6-1. Both doubles teams also won in straight sets.
The Spartans opened the day with a 3-2 victory over No. 26 Cathedral. Meier won at No. 1 singles, Max Holliday at No. 3 singles and the No. 1 doubles team of Alex Graber and Matthew Otten won 7-5, 6-4.
“We're pretty excited about it. In the first round against Cathedral, we were missing our No. 2 singles player, so we weren't sure if we were going to pull that off,” Homestead coach Michael Hower said, alluding to the fact that James Cowan played in the first match and was replaced later in the day with regular lineup member Jared Sagan, a senior. “We had some kids step up and do a nice job. Cathedral is a nice ranked team from Indianapolis, and we were happy with that one. Obviously, HSE is really good, they're lights-out. ... So expectation-wise, I think we did exactly what we hoped to do.”
The Spartans are in the midst of a “bridge” season, with just one senior after graduating five at the end of last year.
“All week we focused on first-serve percentage and getting more returns in – which is basic – but also important,” Hower said. “We had no matches this week, we worked the entire week, and it looked good today. All spots, they were mindful of it and we actually executed. Our doubles teams are doing better at the net, so we're taking baby steps.”
Carroll opened the day with a 5-0 win over Canterbury, which all the Chargers won in straight sets.
Canterbury fell to Delta in the consolation bracket and Concord in the seventh-place match, both by scores of 4-1.
Carroll senior Ethan Koeneman, who lost at No. 2 singles in the final against HSE after winning his first two matches, said he was still encouraged by his team's performance against the Royals, especially Martin's 6-0, 6-3, win over Rohan Golla.
“They are crazy competitive, and we stuck with them for the most part,” Koeneman said. “Griffin won and that brought up the team morale, and we're just doing better as we go.”