The Knights are on a mission.
After two years of playing in a regional final, Northeastern takes aim at advancing to the first boys tennis semistate in program history.
The Knights will face New Castle tonight in a Richmond regional semifinal on the Tiernan Center courts. The winner advances to Wednesday’s final and a matchup with either Connersville or Batesville.
The regional champion moves on to a spot in Saturday’s Center Grove semistate.
“I’ve played two seniors already this year, and it’s sad you see them have to go,” said Northeastern senior Jeremy Lacey, who plays at No. 3 singles for the Knights. “I don’t want that feeling yet.”
Northeastern claimed its third straight sectional title on Saturday when the Knights swept Centerville 5-0.
Two years ago, Northeastern was one spot away from advancing to the semistate. Last season the Knights fell to state-ranked Marion in a regional final.
Northeastern is the state-ranked team now. The Knights are No. 16 in the IHSTeCA poll.
Senior Ryan Hester wants to see a similar approach today as the Knights took last week when they won the Tri-Eastern Conference Tournament and the Richmond sectional.
“Whatever we have to do to win,” said Hester, who plays at No. 1 doubles with Charlie Webster. “Just stay focused and go as far as we can.
“I just really want to win a regional. We’ve lost in the regional finals a couple of years in a row, and I just want to get over that hump.”
Centerville won last year’s Richmond regional. The Knights played in the Richmond regional in 2010 and the Marion regional last year.
“It’s going to help us a lot,” Hester said of the experience. “We’ve improved every single year and I think we handle pressure situations better. I guess we’ll get to find out (this week).”
Added Northeastern coach Mike Esposito: “We’re looking forward to the regional. It’s our third regional and we’ve played in the regional final the last two years in a row and fell short.
” … We’d love to advance to the semistate. We hope that we can put it together.”