NEW PALESTINE — With every great victory comes the potential for an even grander letdown.
New Palestine boys tennis coach Des Evans wasn’t ignoring this possibility on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, he nipped it before it could materialize.
Just two days after his Dragons shocked Hoosier Heritage Conference powerhouse Delta 3-2 on the road, Evans outlined his primary objectives prior to his team’s match with rival Greenfield-Central.
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“I spoke to them yesterday and before they played today about the match being an anticlimax, and having to pick yourself up because often you come out and you can play flat,” Evans remarked. “I warned them of that. I told them they had to breathe, be high-energy because it’s not always easy to come out after you have a big win like that.”
Despite juniors Matthew True and Carson Gavin both battling illness, the Dragons maintained their focus to sweep the visiting Cougars 5-0.
New Palestine won each match in two sets, limiting Greenfield-Central to no more than three games on any given court.
“They did quite well today. We take it match by match. I try to teach them to play in the moment and not to count their chickens before they hatch,” Evans said.
The same approach paid off Monday as New Palestine halted Delta’s run at 100 consecutive HHC match victories — boys and girls — dating back to 2010.
The Dragons won behind a three-set marathon at No. 2 singles where sophomore Ben Blachly won 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“That gave us a lot of confidence moving forward. We played well as a team. We rooted each on and prevailed in the end, which was pretty sweet to watch,” True said. “Everyone contributed. They played great in key moments. That was a great thing for us.”
Though losing against Delta 6-0, 6-1, True powered through to win against Greenfield-Central senior Kole Willis at No. 1 singles 6-3, 6-2, while contending with a double ear infection. Both True and Willis train with Evans at the Indianapolis Racquet Club.
Gavin followed suit as well, winning at No. 3 singles against Greenfield-Central junior Mason Bussel 6-2, 6-3.
“I told them, ‘you’re both going to have to fake it because we need you.’ They needed to take it point by point,” Evans said. “Fortunately, they were able to pull it out.”
Blachly carried over his momentum, taking his match at No. 2 singles against junior Steven Roland 6-0, 6-1.
The Dragons doubles teams put the shutout in motion, winning both of their matches before the singles players applied the finishing touch.
Seniors Nick Rusche and Colby Wagoner won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles against juniors Brad McDowell and Sam Galyean.
At No. 2 doubles, senior David Hockett and junior Dane Reid beat junior Garrett McKee and sophomore Collin Hunt 6-1, 6-0.
Reid played in place of Steven Gutzwiller as Evans blended his junior varsity players into the varsity rotation.
“Nick Rusche won’t be able to play in the county (on Sept. 9). His brother is getting married, so I will probably need to bring in Dane Reid to play. It would be unfair to bring him right into the fire,” Evans said.
In preparation for the spotlight of the Hancock County Tournament, Reid is scheduled to play against Shenandoah today and one out of three matches during Saturday’s Noblesville Invitational against the host Millers, Fishers and Yorktown.
“We’re just trying to get better everyday and play our style,” True said. “We want to keep things going.”
For the Cougars, the loss ended their winning streak at two after defeating Scecina Memorial 4-1 in the season opener and Cardinal Ritter 3-2 last week.
Monday’s setback pushes them to 0-1 in the HHC, while New Palestine improved to 2-1 and 2-0 in the HHC with a 5-0 shutout of Yorktown on Aug. 18.
Last year, the Cougars finished sectional runner-up to the Dragons, narrowly losing in a hotly-contested final 3-2.
“It was a good wake up call for us,” Greenfield-Central coach Michael Turpin said. “In a couple of spots — 1 singles, two singles, three singles — they were all in the match throughout. The scores won’t show it, but there were a lot of deuces and a lot of chances that could have easily gone the other way.
“By no means is it as bad as an 0-5 loss looks. A couple of corrections and we’ll be right there the next time we see them.”
Evans has no doubt Turpin’s group will learn and apply in their potential rematch this postseason and the individual format at the county tournament.
“They did well. Kole Willis had a very positive attitude and he believed he could win. I think he’s improved tremendously. He pushed Matthew all the way,” Evans said.
New Palestine 5, Greenfield-Central 0
No. 1 singles: Matthew True (NP) def. Kole Willis (GC) 6-3, 6-2
No. 2 singles: Ben Blachly (NP) def. Steven Roland (GC) 6-0, 6-1
No. 3 singles: Carson Gavin (NP) def. Mason Bussel (GC) 6-2, 6-3
No. 1 doubles: Nick Rusche/Colby Wagoner (NP) def. Brad McDowell/Sam Galyean (GC) 6-0, 6-1
No. 2 doubles: David Hockett/Dane Reid (NP) def. Garrett McKee/Collin Hunt (NP) 6-1, 6-0
Records: NP 2-1, 2-0 HHC/G-C 2-1, 0-1 HHC