It was a quick opening round at Wednesday evening’s New Castle boys tennis sectional on the NCHS courts.
Blue River Valley had only four players available to take on host New Castle (seven are needed to fill all spots of the five flights) and had to forfeit at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles.
Therefore, the Vikings were staring at a 0-2 deficit before the match even began, and the Trojans needed only one point to clinch the victory.
New Castle made quick work of the three flights actually contested, everything was over by 5:20 p.m., and the Trojans advanced to Thursday’s semifinals with a 5-0 win over Blue River to improve their record to 17-5 for the season.
In Thursday evening’s semifinals, New Castle took on three-time defending sectional champion Knightstown after Shenandoah faced Tri in the first match.
“Obviously, there’s a match after tomorrow (Thursday),” New Castle Head Coach Curt Huntley said after his team’s win. “But both we and Knightstown probably are considered the co-favorites to win the sectional. They’re (Panthers) a really good team with several players back from their semi-state team of a year ago. Our guys will be focused and ready. We’ll just step up to the plate and see which is the better team tomorrow.”
The first flight to finish Wednesday was No. 2 singles. There, Trojan junior Sam Underhill bested Viking freshman Brent DuBois 6-0, 6-1 to give New Castle the point it needed for the victory.
“For me, it was more of a patience game today,” Underhill remarked after he finished. “I kept the ball in play waiting for him (DuBois) to hit the ball long or into the net and then moved on to the next point. We’re excited and ready to play Knightstown.”
Shortly thereafter, Trojan junior Trent Alfrey raised his record to 21-1 for the season by defeating Blue River freshman Kyler Keck 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
Despite the score in that flight, Keck impressed Wednesday’s onlookers with an array of good ground strokes and extended several points, making Alfrey work a little harder on the warm and sunny day.
“He (Keck) definitely made me work,” Alfrey said after his flight. “If he continues working on his game, he’s going to be very good. The things that worked best for me today were my drop shots and play at the net. I tried to get him into a position where I could hit a passing shot.”
About the same time, New Castle’s No. 2 doubles duo of freshmen Leo Underhill and Vincent Farris put the finishing touches of a 6-0, 6-0 win over Viking freshmen Colton Kemerly and Wade Flynn.
“We had four freshmen playing for us today,” Blue River Head Coach Brennan Bales said afterward, “and two of then had never played the game before this year. I told them to use this as a learning experience. If our players work hard to improve and get a little better each day, that’s success.”