GREENWOOD – The Zionsville tennis team is no stranger to tight tennis matches.
So when they got into a close semi-state match-up with Center Grove, there was no panicking on Saturday afternoon.
For the second-straight round, the Eagles dug deep and won a 3-2 match, topping the Trojans to win their first semi-state title since 2009.
“Man, reaching the state quarterfinals, it has been so long since we have even had this opportunity,” Zionsville head coach Earl Allen said. “To have a run like this, every one is excited, we are all pumped up, all the hard work is paying off and I am over the moon.”
The match came down to the No. 2 doubles match between Zionsville’s Ethan Perry and Nick Winters and Center Grove’s Glenn Swaney and Carson Contos was the last on the courts, and with the team score tied 2-2, it all came down to that.
Allen said that was a position he was comfortable in.
“We have had several matches this year where it came down to No. 2 doubles,” Allen said. “Right at the end of the year, we had a match with North Central where they decided it. I know I can always count on those guys to come though.”
The Zionsville duo won the first set 6-1, but were down 5-4 late in the second set when all the other matches were finishing.
But the Eagles held serve to tie the set at 5, then got a big break point to go up 6-5 before finishing the match off.
“We just wanted them to make balls and to go back to what they do,” Allen said. “They had to be aggressive and go forward. That is instinctual for us.”
The Eagles got a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles from Robert Campbell and Ryan Carr over Landen Finlinson and Logan James, and stayed alive in the state doubles tournament.
Zionsville also got a 6-2, 6-1 win from Cole Chappell at No. 1 singles, topping Mason Runkle.
“That was a huge match from Cole Chappell,” Allen said. “He was pumped up, ready to go, especially after losing to Brebeuf on Thursday. He was ready to go and that was a big win for him and team.”
At No. 2 singles, Center Grove’s Luke Embrey topped Nick Bailey 6-3, 6-0. At No. 3 singles, Dhrumil Patel defeated Austin Kuklak 6-1, 6-2.
The Eagles will face North Central on Friday at noon at Center Grove in the state quarterfinals.
“With a week off, we just have to keep hitting and stay focused,” Allen said. “We have to continue to do the things that have gotten us to this point – aggressive play and hitting a lot of balls.”
Allen said he thinks it will be an advantage for his team that they are playing in the same site as the semi-state next Friday.
The Center Grove court set-up is unique and now the team has the experience of playing there.
“I think it is very advantageous to play on these courts and know what we are getting into,” Allen said. “We have some familiarity with it, and won’t have to adjust, especially with a red background. We were having troubles seeing the balls at the start today, so it is good to get used to that.”
Earlier in the week, the Eagles topped Covenant Christian 5-0 and Brebeuf Jesuit 3-2 to win the regional title.
Against the Crusaders, Cole Chappell topped Luke Susud 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
At No. 2 singles, Nick Bailey topped Brenner Lampton 6-0, 6-0 and at No. 3 singles, Austin Kuklak topped Joseph Bird 6-1, 6-2.
At No. 1 doubles, Campbell and Carr topped Wilson and Shelton 6-3, 6-2 and at No. 2 doubles, Winters and Perry won 6-1, 6-2 over Chen and Burris.
In the regional championship match against Brebeuf Jesuit, Chappell lost 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 singles.
At No. 2 singles, Bailey won 6-3, 6-3 over Chase Hutchinson and at No. 3 singles, Kuklak fell in three sets to Max Aaron.
At No. 1 doubles, Campbell and Carr topped Danny Battler and Jett Jenkins 6-3, 6-2 and at No. 2 doubles, Perry and Winters topped Matthew McKay and Jack Moore 6-3, 6-4.