GREENWOOD — It’s so tempting to look at the history books when it comes to the tennis rivalry between North Central and Park Tudor.
There are the state titles — 27 combined between the two programs. There’s the fact that North Central won its third consecutive state title last year with a 3-2 win over Park Tudor. There’s the fact that Park Tudor won both regular-season matches between them this season.
It’s tantalizing to draw conclusions. But in the end, you can throw the history books out when the two teams meet in the state semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at North Central.
“It’s a new squad,” said Park Tudor No. 2 singles Drew Wiegel. “We’re going to keep our confidence from this year and that’ll carry us through.”
As for North Central, it doesn’t care about last year. It just wants revenge from a few weeks ago.
“I don’t think anything that’s happened in the past years is relevant right now,” North Central coach Dan Brunette said. “What’s fresh in our minds is the Marion County tournament. Since that match, the guys have gotten tougher and more focused. They’ve spent a lot more time together, and we’ve been looking forward to an opportunity to play Park Tudor.”
While his team picked up two wins against the three-time defending state champion, Park Tudor coach Kevin Gill “only counts one” since North Central was missing its No. 2 singles player for one of the matches. As for the other win, he emphasizes that his team had to come from behind to win.
In other words, even this season’s results don’t mean a whole lot. Gill knows it will be a challenge. And he relishes it.
“We wouldn’t want it any other way than to beat the tough teams,” he said. “I told them last year, ‘Have fun, enjoy the moment.’ If they go out, compete and play their hearts out, they can’t lose.”
The reward for the winner? Quite possibly a date with Carmel for the state title at 2 p.m. The Greyounds defeated Delta 5-0 in a quarterfinal at Carmel and will face Bloomington North in the semifinals.
That raises a potential quandary: How much energy should the Panthers expend during a semifinal match?
“All the coaches to an extent would stop play once you get the match (won) if it’s extended,” Gill said. “That’s just how it is. If our singles players are grinding and we have the match done, that’s where we have to think about maybe stopping.”
Brunette said the team that controls its emotions best will likely come out on top.
“It’s going to be a mentally and physically draining day for whoever wins,” he said. “At some point, adrenaline takes over. … People who can handle their emotions, play with confidence and execute strategy without being too (distracted), that’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Park Tudor got by Evansville Memorial 4-1 in a quarterfinal at Center Grove on Friday, with three of the wins coming in straight sets. Brandon Wu got the lone win for the Tigers at No. 1 singles and will advance in the state tournament as an individual.
North Central defeated Richmond 4-1 at Center Grove, with all four wins coming in straight sets. Eric Hollinsgworth won for Richmond at No. 1 singles.