- Val T.
Strasser’s return a ‘miracle,’ but North Judson edges Rochester in sectional semi
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
CULVER — Rochester senior Drew Strasser returned to tennis for the boys tennis team’s sectional semifinal match against North Judson at Culver Academy Wednesday.
Zebra interim coach Mason Heyde called it a “miracle.”
However, his season lasted only one match as Rochester lost to North Judson 3-2.
Rochester finished 8-4 and on a three-match losing streak.
“It was a bummer to lose,” Heyde said. “They had switched some people around on their side from when we played them last. I’m not sure it was a strategic thing to try to load their singles side or load their doubles side. I’m not sure. But we hit a lot of shots out tonight, a lot of errors on their side.”
Rochester’s wins came from Luke Hunting at No. 3 singles and from Robert Bozzo and Brayden Zink at No. 1 doubles.
Hunting beat Lukas Burkett 6-0, 6-4. Bozzo and Zink lost the first set, won the second set but trailed 0-3 in the third set before pulling out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
Bozzo and Zink will continue in the doubles state tournament against an opponent and at a time to be determined.
The team match came down to an excruciatingly tense battle at No. 2 singles between Rochester’s Tanner Reinartz and North Judson’s Caleb Ginder.
Reinartz lost the first set and trailed 2-5 in the second set. He won five straight games to force a third set. He then trailed 1-4 in the third set but won four straight games and had a match point at 5-4 on Ginder’s serve. But Ginder won three straight points to get it to 5-all.
Reinartz held serve. Ginder held serve. It was 6-all.
Darkness was setting in, and the match was moved to a court with lighting for the third set tiebreak.
Ginder built a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak and had two match points. Reinartz fought off the first match point, winning an epic point with a forehand volley winner. He then hit a forehand down the line to save another match point.
Ginder then won the next point with a forehand approach at Reinartz’s feet and pulled out a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5) win in a match that lasted two hours and 20 minutes.
“He fought back,” Heyde said of Reinartz. “It was a good match. We would have liked to have won one more, but that’s how it happens.”
North Judson’s other points came from A.J. Bau, who beat Rochester’s Brock Bowers 6-4, 7-6 (2) at No. 1 singles; and Nathan Faldzinski and Ebert White, who rallied to beat Strasser and Jake Freeman 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles.
Heyde said he found out at 11 a.m. – about six-and-a-half hours before first serve – that Strasser’s doctor would allow him to play. Heyde said he had “everything lined up” waiting for the doctor’s OK: clearance from the IHSAA, parents, trainer and athletic director Kevin Renie.
“It was nice having him out there,” Heyde said. “That was my goal. Our sectional, with CMA in it, we can’t really get out of sectional, but the fact that he got to be out on the court this year is a miracle. … He was in the hospital for a few weeks, so the fact that he was able to … that’s why.”
Strasser suffered sudden cardiac arrest at school on Aug. 5, according to FultonCountyPost.com. He returned to the team by Labor Day. Heyde said Strasser would serve as a team manager for the season.
A Hog Roast Benefit was held to help defray some of Strasser’s medical costs in the school parking lot before the Peru-Rochester football game Friday.
Rochester Community School Corporation Superintendent Jana Vance released a statement on Aug. 5 saying that a student had a “medical emergency” while on campus and that the student had been transported to the hospital, but no further details were released.
Bozzo and Zink’s match was also topsy-turvy.
“They’re a much stronger team,” Heyde said. “They hit a lot of balls out in the first few sets. Once they finally got their heads back in it, they rattled some off and got done.”
In the other semifinal, No. 21 Culver Academy swept Knox 5-0.
Culver Academy will play North Judson at 5:30 p.m. today in the sectional final. Culver Academy is seeking its 19th consecutive sectional title.
Results: North Judson 3, Rochester 2
A.J. Bau (NJSP) def. Brock Bowers (RHS), 6-4, 7-6 (2)
Caleb Ginder (NJSP) def. Tanner Reinartz (RHS), 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5)
Luke Hunting (RHS) def. Lukas Burkett (NJSP), 6-0, 6-4
Robert Bozzo-Brayden Zink (RHS) def. Damien Frasure-Wyatt Stowe (NJSP), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Nathan Faldzinski-Ebert White (NJSP) def. Jake Freeman-Drew Strasser (RHS), 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
The Rochester boys tennis team fell 3-2 to North Judson Wednesday in a Culver Academy sectional semifinal. Rochester finished 8-4. (photo courtesy of Wes Dehne/The Rochester Sentinel)