CENTERVILLE, Ind. – Centerville’s tennis teams know a thing or two about Tri-Eastern Conference winning streaks.
Coach Randy Ecker guided the Bulldogs’ boys program to 87 consecutive victories in the conference. In four years leading the girls program, Ecker’s Bulldogs have yet to taste defeat in a TEC regular-season dual match.
Centerville once again finished a perfect 7-0 season under Ecker, fending off Northeastern 4-1 on a windy Tuesday night on the Bulldog courts.
“It was really good to keep the streak going,” said senior Alexis Stamper, who triumphed 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2 singles. “It was senior night, so it was really nice to win for that.
“It’s really good going into the tournament with this win. It means a lot. It will bring momentum for it.”
Centerville vs. Northeastern typically carries conference implications, and Tuesday’s match was no different.
Lizzy Walther joined Stamper in winning at singles with a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 3, while Taylor Lakes and Abby Stewart won at No. 1 doubles and Kelly Wolf and Chloe Uphaus did the same at No. 2.
The Bulldogs rose to 9-2 overall.
“We lost early in the season, and they’ve been on a streak since then,” Ecker said of his squad, noting the program’s losses this year have come to Connersville and Richmond.
“Those were close matches, and I’ve changed my lineup since then. I think we’re playing a little stronger. I like where we’re at right now, but there are lots of good matches yet to be played.”
Centerville has now won 42 straight TEC matches. The Bulldogs have finished 7-0 for six straight seasons — two of which came with Darlene Wendeln at the helm in 2010 and 2011 — with their last defeat in a conference dual match on May 5, 2009 to Lincoln.
“I was a little worried about this match, because I knew we matched up pretty evenly across,” Ecker said. “Our girls practiced hard this week and played very well tonight. I appreciated their aggressiveness and their mental toughness. It was nice to see.”
Northeastern’s Hannah McKissick won 6-1, 7-5 at No. 1 singles. It was her 71st career victory, and McKissick recently passed Kristian Ketron’s mark of 68 to become the program’s all-time leader in wins.
Northeastern is now 9-5 overall, 5-2 in the TEC.
“It was a good win for Hannah. She’s still hanging in there, battling,” said Northeastern coach Mike Esposito.
“Centerville was ready to play at every spot. … Congratulations to them. They are regular-season champs, and rightfully so after tonight. We have a little bit left for conference and sectionals. We look forward to it.”
The Knights return to action tonight vs. Seton Catholic, while the Bulldogs are off until Saturday’s opening day of the TEC Tournament at Hagerstown.
The tournament’s finals are scheduled for Monday. Centerville swept both the regular-season and tournament titles a year ago, and shared the TEC with Northeastern the previous two after the Knights won the conference tournament in 2012 and 2013.
“There is a lot of parity throughout, so it’s going to be interesting,” Ecker said of the upcoming tournament.
“A lot of close matches I look for, and (it will) kind of end up on how the draw works.”
Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463 firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI
BULLDOGS 4, KNIGHTS 1
SINGLES- 1. McKissick (NE) def. Minhinnett 6-1, 7-5; 2. Stamper (CEN) def. Hester 6-2, 6-0; 3. Walther (CEN) def. Benner 6-2, 6-2.
DOUBLES- 1. Lakes and Stewart (CEN) def. McDaniel and Adams 6-2, 6-0; 2. Wolf and Uphaus (CEN) def. Ullery and Jay 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2).