Marauders advance to sectional final

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Matt Jones returns a backhand against Eastern Hancock at the Mt. Vernon Sectional last season.

Mike Brown | For The Daily Reporter

By Brady Extin | Daily Reporter

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FORTVILLE — Leading the way for Mt. Vernon all season has been their three singles players.

That was no different on Thursday evening.

The Marauders advanced to the championship round of Mt. Vernon Sectional 47 of the IHSAA Boys Tennis Team State Tournament with a 4-1 win over Eastern Hancock.

“Sectional is a weird animal. Weird things happen, and you have peaks and valleys, and you just have to stay tight. It’s survive and advance,” Mt. Vernon head coach Gabe Muterspaugh said. “We knew this was going to be a tough match. All of them are come sectional time. So to get a 4-1 win and be right there to almost be 5-0 is good.”

In almost the same fashion as their round one matchup against Pendleton Heights, the Marauders grabbed a very early 2-0 lead behind their No.1 and No. 2 singles players.

In the No. 1 match, Adam Koon improved to 22-1 on the season with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Eastern Hancock senior Zeke Dixon.

Finishing right behind him was No. 2 singles player Manny Downs with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Luke Fletcher.

“It’s just a luxury to have Adam Koon on your team,” Muterspaugh said. “And Manny’s getting back to being Manny. The last two matches he’s been really focused.”

Securing the team victory for Mt. Vernon was a freshman, Tate Cougill.

Cougill defeated Luke Schilling 6-2, 6-1 in the No. 3 singles match.

“Tate, our freshman, has been a monster for us all season,” Muterspaugh added.

“We’re very disappointed. We thought we had a shot today,” Eastern Hancock head coach Chris Zeilinga said. “Mt. Vernon is just very good. Their singles guys just came out and were too strong for us. I’m proud of our guys for fighting, but Mt. Vernon’s just an animal right now.”

Even with the team already down 3-0, Eastern Hancock’s brother tandem of Bryce and Myles Wennen still had plenty to play for.

In a match that lasted two and a half hours, they overcame a first set loss to defeat Robbie Moore and Bryndan Wylie 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (12-10) in the No. 1 doubles spot.

In set three, they found themselves down and nearly out multiple times. Down 5-4 in the final set, they won the next two to eventually force the tiebreaker. And in a back-and-forth tiebreaker, they trailed 5-3, 9-8, and 10-9 before eventually grabbing three straight points.

With the win, the Wennens advanced individually to Tuesday’s individual sectional.

“We’ve relied on one doubles all year. I think Bryce is the best doubles player in this county. And Myles is just a strong, strong player, so they make a heck of a team for us,” Zeilinga said. “We’re looking forward to them going on.”

In the other match to go all three sets, Mt. Vernon’s Matt Jones and Max Orelup outlasted Bo Dixon and Peyton Stephens 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“I thought our two doubles really fought all night,” Zeilinga said. “Mt. Vernon did a really good job upping their level in sets two and three becoming more aggressive and attacking more.”

“So these three singles guys have been great, but tomorrow’s going to take a whole team effort,” Muterspaugh said. “Our doubles have got to be ready to go, and I think they will be.”

Mt. Vernon will face Greenfield-Central in the championship match today beginning at 4:30 p.m at Mt. Vernon High School. The Marauders defeated the Cougars in their team match this season 4-1.

“It feels like we’ve seen Greenfield 70 times this season, but we match up well,” Muterspaugh said. “It’s one of those times where you have to leave it all out there. You can’t be scared. You can’t play to lose. You’ve got to play to win, and you have to keep your emotions in check. If we do that, I think we’re going to have some good results.”