GREENWOOD — After No. 2 Park Tudor captured its sixth straight boys tennis semistate title Saturday over Franklin, there wasn’t much pageantry afterward. Some high-fives were exchanged, a congratulatory message from the coach was issued and plans for a visit to Steak ‘n Shake were made.
“I told the guys, ‘Enjoy it. It’s supposed to be fun. A lot of kids wish for this,’ ” coach Kevin Gill said. “We can’t take it for granted.”
That’s all true. But the Panthers have been here before. They want more. They’ll face Evansville Memorial in the state quarterfinals of the IHSAA tournament Friday afternoon. A win could mean a date with three-time defending state champion North Central in the semifinals Saturday. Fellow perennial power Carmel is on the other side of the bracket.
“Sometimes maybe we can get a little complacent because we have been here before. But our experience helps,” Gill said. “We’re with (North Central and Carmel) this year. We feel like we’re closer.”
But Panthers No. 3 singles player Vijay Tewari knows complacency is the exact opposite of what they need if they hope to hoist a state title trophy.
“We have to go in confidently and take the win,” he said. “For me, since I’ve been at this point two years in a row now, I can definitely feel that my experience is going to help me.”
Franklin’s No. 1 singles player Noah Roberts picked up the Grizzlies’ lone win, 7-6, 7-5 over Aiden Harris. Franklin came in ranked No. 25 in the state, 23 spots lower than Park Tudor. Intimidating? A little bit. But that fuel might have been just what Roberts needed.
“It sounds weird to say that Franklin plays a team like Park Tudor, because not many people have heard of us,” said Roberts, who will advance to the individual state finals. “Park Tudor has a tradition of greatness. It’s intimidating, but I try to not think about it. They always say you play up to your opponents. Whenever you get someone tough like that, you always play better. It’s a lot more motivation.”
Elsewhere, Carmel advanced with a 5-0 win over Munster in the Culver Academies Semistate. It was the Greyhounds’ seventh straight semistate title.
“It is somewhat of a broken record, but it’s a passion we have for the sport,” Carmel coach Spencer Fields said. “We spend 365 days training for these types of moments. They’re putting in eight to 10 hours trying to be better players for these specific moments. If there’s a time to peak, they know it’s now.”
North Central also advanced with a 4-1 win over Leo at the Homestead Semistate. The Panthers have won six straight semistate titles and are looking for a fourth straight state championship.
“I think it’s good to have a tough road in the state tournament,” coach Dan Brunette said. “Having gone through Cathedral, Hamilton Southeastern, Lawrence North and Leo now, the guys have been tested physically and mentally. We’re coming together as a team. All seven guys are starting to play together pretty well.”
Carmel will host South Bend St. Joseph at 3 p.m. Friday. North Central will face Richmond at 3 p.m. Friday at Center Grove.