Collin Mercer thought Delta had already clinched. The Eagles senior tennis player believed his team had already won three matches on Wednesday, so he thought the victory he and Jack Sanders picked up at No. 2 doubles was a fourth for good measure.
Instead, Mercer and Sanders won a clinching third match, helping No. 8 Delta (23-1) defeat No. 25 Marion 3-2 for the championship of the Marion Regional. For the Eagles, it’s their second consecutive regional title and 18th in 19 years.
“I was kind of surprised that the crowd was so loud after we had won,” Mercer said. “And I kind of gave a shout. But I walked off, and I think Jack or another player was like, ‘(No. 1 singles player Alec St. John) lost, and I’m like, ‘What?’ So it’s kind of cool to feel like, ‘Oh, that’s cool we got the third win.’ “
Mercer and Sanders, a sophomore, are in their first year together as doubles partners. They’ve played most of their matches as a duo this season, and Mercer is 23-2 and Sanders is 21-2.
“I’d definitely say we’re a lot closer now,” Mercer said. “We know what each other likes, we know how to set each other up. And we know what can bring each other up, and bring each other down. And we’re definitely at a better place now than what we were.”
Mercer and Sanders won their first set before dropping the second. Before the third set, they made a point to be more aggressive again, something that allowed them to efficiently finish their 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 victory.
“In the second set, we got a little nervous, and we got a little to where we were standing and afraid to make a play,” Delta coach Tim Cleland said. “Another (way) you say that is you call it playing not to lose instead of playing to win. And when you get in that situation, it’s hard, because nerves plant you down. So we just had to get them to trust their athleticism, make some moves.”
Delta’s No. 1 doubles team of Nick Wilson and Jay Robillard, and No. 3 singles player Jordan Fenwick each provided victories to put Mercer and Sanders in a position to clinch the team victory. Wilson and Robillard were the first players off the court, winning 6-2, 6-0. Fenwick won 6-4, 6-2.
Marion won each of the first two singles positions. The Giants’ Tejas Srikanth defeated Alec St. John 7-5, 6-3 at No. 1 singles. Vinai Oddiraju defeated Bradley Wuthrich 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2 singles.
Delta advances to play Concord (15-4) in the Homestead Semistate at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Other ECI winners
Yorktown’s Ian Landwehr won easily in individual tournament play at Marion, and the Burris doubles team of Kevin Joe and Jameson King also won in the individual doubles tournament.
Landwehr defeated Anderson’s Joseph Moran 6-0, 6-0. He advanced to play Marion’s Tejas Srikanth at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Marion in the next round of individual play.
“(Yorktown’s sectional loss to Delta) was a tough loss for us as a team,” Landwehr said. “But a tough match with (Alec St. John) helped me get prepared for this tournament this (week). And I had two really good solid matches today and yesterday.”
Joe and King won 6-3, 6-3 against Elwood’s Dakin Updegraff and Jordan Arehart. Their next opponent is to be announced.