With a showdown looming, the possibility existed for Carmel and North Central to be a bit flat in Friday’s high school boys tennis state quarterfinals.
That wasn’t the case for either. No. 1 Carmel shut out No. 8 Delta 5-0 and No. 2 North Central won 5-0 over No. 15 Northeastern at Carmel. Neither team’s players dropped a set in their matches. They meet in the semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at North Central. The final is set for 2 p.m.
“It was our seniors’ last match on our courts,” Carmel coach Mike Bostic said. “We wanted to do it for them. That’s what you want to do, play your best this weekend. I think we’ve improved dramatically throughout the season. In some of our biggest matches, we’ve played our best tennis.”
The Greyhounds, who are seeking their fourth consecutive state title, have only one starter returning from last year’s team which beat North Central 4-1 in the state final. The Panthers have five starters back.
Carmel (23-1) and North Central (24-1) have split the two meetings this season. North Central won 3-2 on Sept. 16 and Carmel won 3-2 in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference tournament on Sept 21.
North Central’s No. 1 doubles team is unbeaten. Carmel’s Michael Li is undefeated at No. 3 singles and the No. 2 doubles team is unbeaten.
“It’s going to be a battle at every position,” Bostic said.
North Central coach Dan Brunette agreed there are no guaranteed points.
“It’s wide open, all five spots,” Brunette said. “It’s going to come down to who can handle adversity and play aggressive tennis.”
North Central sophomore J.J. Kroot had Friday’s longest match, beating Grant Esposito 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) at No. 2 singles.
“(Esposito) is a very good athlete. That was a great win for Kroot,” Brunette said.
Panthers senior Ari Gerstein, who topped Northeastern’s Jacob Rankin 6-4, 6-0, said he has confidence in all five positions.
“I feel like our No. 3 singles player (J.T. Wynne) and the No. 2 doubles team have improved a lot since the last time we played Carmel,” Gerstein said. “They’ve stepped up a lot in practice and played well in matches.
Park Tudor also advanced Friday, winning 3-2 over Jasper. The Panthers will play Evansville Memorial in the other 10 a.m. semifinal. Memorial also won 3-2 Friday, over Penn. Park Tudor’s Dan Rayl remained unbeaten at No. 1 singles.