The move made so much sense, perhaps West Lafayette tennis coach Tim Wright wishes he had thought of it sooner.
Senior Christopher Park had been playing well at No. 2 singles for the Red Devils, but with the postseason just two weeks away, Wright believed he had to shake up his lineup in order to defeat Harrison for the West Lafayette Sectional championship.
So Park, who played No. 2 singles during the 2011 season, joined junior Tommy Krause at No. 1 doubles. Their initial results were impressive: 6-0, 6-0 over Crawfordsville; 6-0, 6-0 against Twin Lakes.
Nothing much changed in the first two rounds of the sectional: 6-0, 6-0 over Central Catholic and 6-0, 6-1 over Lafayette Jeff. Then came the matchup Wright envisioned against Harrison’s talented No. 1 duo of Nick LaNeve and David Beardmore.
Park and Krause came through with a 6-4, 6-2 triumph, providing the second point in the Red Devils’ 3-2 victory on Friday. Tuesday, the duo will be counted upon again when West Lafayette takes on Logansport at the Kokomo Regional.
“Janet (Blumling), our assistant coach, always says you need to be good at doubles in order to play singles well,” Park said. “We do a lot of doubles training, doubles drills, and that helps. And last year, I played (number) two doubles the entire season, so it was a nice transition back.”
Krause had been paired with another senior, Andre Woloshuk, but he understood that the best interests of the team came first.
“Andre and Chris are both really good partners to play with,” Krause said. “We just wanted to make our doubles a little bit stronger, so adding Andre to two doubles made our two doubles a lot stronger. Playing with Chris makes our one doubles a stronger team.”
Park welcomed the pairing with his friend off the tennis court, a relationship he said helps in doubles play.
“We have similar playing styles, and we like to attack and be aggressive,” Park said. “We knew each other’s game well enough to mesh together in a short amount of time, and I think it worked pretty well.”
No one was more happy, or relieved as the case may be, than Wright to see that his moves paid off. Two more Red Devils affected by the lineup shuffle, juniors Alan Min and George Chien, proved the other two sectional championship points at Nos. 2 and 3 singles.
In hindsight, Wright can see the pairing of Park and Krause was a natural fit.
“I think that was the easiest change to make,” Wright said. “Christopher is probably our best ball striker. He’s got phenomenal hands. He’s fast-paced and doubles is more a fast-paced game in most matches than a two singles position is. He’s got all the talent in the world.
“Tommy is the same way. Tommy’s a big serve and a heavy ball hitter, too. I just thought that would be a good pairing and we had to counter what (Harrison) did. That’s a pretty big gamble when you beat a team in the regular season 4-1.”
On the other side of the Kokomo Regional bracket is the host Wildkats and defending state champion Carmel. Tuesday’s winners play at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday for a berth in the Culver Academies Semistate.
Two other area teams remain alive in the state tournament and could meet in the Crawfordsville Regional championship match. Fountain Central (17-2), coming off its first sectional championship since 1997, takes on Northview (15-5) while the host Athenians (13-4) face Terre Haute South (13-3).