ZIONSVILLE – For the first time since 2008, the Zionsville boys tennis team is the Hoosier Crossroads Conference champions.
Top-to-bottom, the HCC is the toughest conference in the state, with five teams ranked in the latest poll that came out on Sept. 16, and two of the other three having been ranked at one point during the year.
But it was the Eagles who persevered, winning both doubles flights and placing in the top-4. Zionsville finished with 36 points, besting No. 9 Fishers, No. 13 HSE and No. 10 Westfield in a close team race.
“I am on cloud 20, not even nine,” Zionsville head coach Earl Allen said. “The day started out and we had our celebration for Harrison (Hunn) and we started the day out right and ended it out right at our positions. I am so proud of our guys, and we went and did exactly what we needed to do.”
The second day of the tournament fell on the one-year anniversary of the death of Zionsville player Harrison Hunn and his sister Shelby.
Prior to the tournament, Allen and the team presented Hunn’s mother Stephanie Reece with his varsity letter and certificate from last season, as well as a portrait signed by members of the boys and girls programs.
Allen said it was an emotional start to the day, and the team wanted to have a strong day for Harrison.
“It meant a lot to win and to be able to honor Harrison,” Allen said. “After the ceremony, we pulled all the guys over and wanted them just to focus on their tennis. We wanted our racquets do the talking, and if we did what we were supposed to do, it would be a total celebration for the team and Harrison.”
The Eagles came in as the No. 1 seed at both doubles spots and held those down.
At No. 1 doubles, Ryan Carr and Robert Campbell topped Jake Baron and Aidan Carlisle 6-1, 6-2. In the semifinals, they dropped the first set to Fishers’ Andrew Leonard and Nick Rasmussen 6-2, but won the second 6-0 and then the third 10-3.
In the finals, they topped Nicholas Mabe and Brett Barnes 6-1, 6-2.
At No. 2 doubles, Ethan Perry and Nick Winters topped Kole Brewer and Garrett Smith 6-1, 6-2 in the opening round, then topped Harrison Sindelar and Connor Housfield 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals.
In the finals, they topped Drew Barker and Logan Kay 6-3, 6-2.
“We have had some tough matches this year,” Allen said. “To not lose a set at 2-doubles and only lose the one at No. 1 doubles, it really solidified in their heads that they are ready to go for anything they see.”
The big mover for the Eagles was at No. 3 singles.
Austin Kuklak was the No. 4 seed and advanced to the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kyle Doctor.
In the semifinals, he upset No. 1 seed Nate Simkins 6-2, 7-5, before losing to Rohan Golla 6-4, 6-2 in the final.
“It was all about belief,” Allen said. “We have him believing that he is the No. 3 player that he should be, and he played like it. He believed in himself.”
Cole Chappell earned all-HCC recognition (along with the doubles teams) for placing third at No. 1 singles.
He topped HSE’s Andrew Orme 6-0, 6-1 before losing to Brownsburg’s Petar Petrovic 3-6, 6-1, 10-7. In the third-place match, he was leading Connor Maris 6-0, 0-1 when Maris retired.
At No. 2 singles, Nick Bailey placed fourth. He topped Sean Nograles 6-1, 6-2 in the opening round. He then lost to Owen McEldowney 6-2, 6-1 and Paul Schneider 7-5, 6-3.
The Eagles travel to Guerin Wednesday before hosting McCutcheon Thursday and North Central Monday.
“There are still some things that we have to clean up,” Allen said. “We have to do a little bit better on returns, and serving is always an issue. We want to have more net-aggressive dominance for our doubles.”