FORTVILLE – Mt. Vernon did what it needed to do in a big match Wednesday to set up for a bigger match Monday.
The Marauders boys tennis team took care of business against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival New Palestine, winning 5-0 with five straight-set wins at Mt. Vernon High School Wednesday.
Seeking the program’s first conference title, the Marauders will play for it Monday, at home, against longtime HHC leader Delta.
With Wednesday’s win, Mt. Vernon improved to 14-2 overall and 5-1 in HHC matches, the same league mark as Delta.
“I was really happy with the way we came out ready to go,” Mt. Vernon coach Gabe Muterspaugh said. “We hadn’t played since last Thursday and were going up against one of our biggest rivals, every year. To get a 5-0 win and in straight sets means we did our job.”
Delta has dominated HHC play and had held on to the league’s traveling trophy for six years — its entire existence — until losing to Greenfield-Central earlier this season. Mt. Vernon grabbed that trophy — a wood racket with the conference schools names and colors around the head — in a dual meet against the Cougars earlier this month.
Since, the Marauders have defended the trophy. On Monday, they’ll seek another big prize.
“This is what you play for,” Muterspaugh added. “You want to be in this spot to be playing for a championship and then, right after that, we have the sectional. We can take care of two big things that week and have a heck of a week.”
Against the Dragons (8-9, 1-6), Mt. Vernon’s doubles teams got off the court first.
The No. 2 squad of Matthew Jones and Max Orelup defeated Dawson Lynch and Nick Parrett 6-1, 6-0.
At No. 1 doubles, Robbie Moore and Bryndan Wylie defeated Max Havel and Eli Sloan 6-2, 6-1.
It was the second meeting of the season between the schools’ top doubles groups. At the county tournament, Mt. Vernon rallied to beat New Pal in a third-set super-tiebreaker.
“I was happy with our focus tonight, especially with our doubles teams,” Muterspaugh added. “They set the tone early and took care of business pretty quick and let them know it wasn’t going to be like county. They took care of business and were aggressive. (Assistant) coach (Jeff) Brandes really got them going in practice this week.”
Mt. Vernon secured the team victory when No. 1 singles player Adam Koon defeated Moses Haynes 6-3, 6-1.
The Marauders added a 6-4, 6-4 win from No. 3 singles player Tate Cougill.
The last match to wrap up, at No. 2 singles, was the most competitive of the night. Mt. Vernon’s Manny Downs gave Arjomand Khokar his first HHC loss of the season, 6-3, 7-5.
“I feel we’re playing well from court No. 1 to court No. 5,” Koon said.
Along with playing for a conference title on Monday, the Marauders and Dragons will both be gearing up for the sectional tournament.
New Palestine is the defending tourney champ, but graduated all of its varsity members from last year except for Haynes. Coach Jean Graham said she sees her young team moving in the right direction.
“I think our guys are improving every match,” Graham said. “They’re making less errors, playing points better. Adam Koon is just a fantastic player, a handful (for Haynes). I felt we had a good match at No. 2 and I think it could have gone either way.”
Along with a young varsity, Graham’s junior varsity team was the recent winner of the JV county tournament, and added a 4-1 win over the Marauders on Wednesday. “They’re getting better and better. We’ve got some good young boys coming on,” she said.
The pairings for the sectional tournament will be announced Monday evening. The five-team tournament, which will be hosted by Mt. Vernon and include the Marauders, Dragons, Greenfield-Central, Eastern Hancock and Pendleton Heights, begins Wednesday.
Prior to the tournament and Monday’s match with Delta, the Marauders welcome No. 19 Westfield today for a 5 p.m. contest.
New Palestine finishes its regular season today with a road match at Bishop Chatard.