Northwestern beats Zebras in final match before sectionals
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester boys tennis team might have found their toughest test in the final match of their whirlwind regular season schedule.
Northwestern blanked the Zebras 5-0 on the RHS courts Wednesday, winning four of the five matches in straight sets.
The loss gave RHS a 3-6 record going into sectionals next Wednesday at Culver Academy. The IHSAA draw is 7 p.m. Monday.
The host Eagles have won the sectional 16 consecutive years.
RHS lost six of seven after a 2-0 start.
Grant McCarter used precise passing shots to win the second set against serve-and-volleying Cole Wise at No. 1 singles, but Wise reversed McCarter’s momentum to win 6-1, 1-6, 6-1.
In the other singles matches, Adam Morrow blanked Brayden Zink 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2, and Austin Robinson knocked off Zak Daake 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3.
“He played really well,” RHS coach Jesse Atkinson said of McCarter. “I think everybody played well, but Grant did a great job of building points in that second set. He had a little bit of a rough start, but he was able to rally there in that second set and put a lot of points together to get him across the finish line in the second set. But his opponent came back with a lot of aggressiveness in the third set there. He opened up the third set serving and volleying. I haven't seen a whole lot of high school kids bust out any serving and volleying in recent memory, and that’s how he came out. That’s an aggressive play no matter what.”
Caden Gaier and Addison Horner stopped RHS’ Brock Bowers and Kyle Reinartz 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles.
“And I think that’s where you see some of the differences between their schedule and ours,” Atkinson said. “They’re playing a lot of teams that rank very highly in the state as well as our district. But that’s a strong school there. Absolutely.”
At No. 2 doubles, Will Lovelace and Tate Mullens beat the RHS team of Cody Smith and Drew Strasser 6-0, 6-0.
“Definitely the top,” Atkinson said when asked to rank Northwestern among teams they have played this year. “They’re currently seventh in our district. … You’ve got to be pretty good to crack that top 10 in the district spot. That’s top 10 among a lot of phenomenal teams in our area and our district. Peru, CMA, the Lafayette schools … If you’re ranking high in the district, you’re playing for real.”
Atkinson said he wants his team to play “relaxed” as they prepare for the postseason.
“That’s the goal for the next week is to get to that place mentally so that we go into sectionals and do what we can do,” Atkinson said.
Northwestern also won the JV match 4-0.
RESULTS: NORTHWESTERN 5, ROCHESTER 0
Cole Wise (NW) def. Grant McCarter (RHS), 6-1, 1-6, 6-1
Adam Morrow (NW) def. Brayden Zink (RHS), 6-0, 6-0
Austin Robinson (NW) def. Zak Daake (RHS), 6-2, 6-1
Caden Gaier-Addison Horner (NW) def. Brock Bowers-Kyle Reinartz (RHS), 6-2, 6-2
Will Lovelace-Tate Mullens (NW) def. Cody Smith-Drew Strasser (RHS), 6-0, 6-0
JV RESULTS: NORTHWESTERN 4, ROCHESTER 0
Caleb Wilson (RHS) lost 8-0.
Calen Campbell (RHS) lost 8-7 (8).
Robert Bozzo (RHS) lost 8-6.
Calen Campbell-Jake Freeman (RHS) lost 8-2.