"We graduated four off of that team," said Northview coach Tom West, whose Knights will compete Tuesday at the Center Grove Regional. "But to be honest, we expected to be here again. Even though a lot of these kids had not played varsity until this year, they have been playing tennis down through the years. All of that hard work paid off for them today."
This was the third time in four seasons that Linton has played in the title match. The Miners (4-13) beat Owen Valley 3-2 in the sectional finale in 2004 for its only post season tennis championship.
"It was exactly a month ago when Northview beat us 5-0," said Linton coach Brad McKinney, who completed his 10th season in charge of the Miners. "They really steam rolled us the first time we played them.
"By no means did they steam roll us today. We had our chances, especially in the first sets in both doubles matches. We gave ourselves a chance, but we could not bounce back after dropping close first sets."
West commended the play of the Miners.
"Linton has a really good team," he said. "They had an impressive win the other day against Owen Valley and competed well today. We were able to take advantage of their inexperience in a few positions, which was the difference in the end."
McKinney said that freshman Seth Herndon finished an up and down season on a high note. Herndon beat Northview's Adam Clark 7-5, 6-1 at No. 2 singles to account for the lone Miner point.
"Seth had an excellent sectional," said McKinney. "He was able to turn his game around after a mid-season funk.
"He really played very well in winning two sectional matches. He was very energetic today and I think he frustrated Clark somewhat. This was a good learning experience for him as well as our other young, returning players."?
At No. 1 singles, Northview's Austin Akers defeated Linton senior George Fritch 6-1, 6-3. Fritch finished with a 9-14 record in his first season playing singles.
"It is big jump from doubles to No. 1 singles," said McKinney. "He did a good job of competing throughout the season. He did not play well in the first set but was competitive in the second set against a good Northview player."?
At No. 3 singles, Northview's Clint Reynolds defeated Linton freshman Kris Shipman 6-0, 6-1.?Ryne Barr, Northview's lone senior, teamed with Matt Nodley to beat the Linton duo of Chase Rhoten and Merrick McBride 6-3, 6-2. It was the first loss in five matches since McKinney paired Rhoten and McBride together at No. 1 doubles.
"They were on serve 4-3 in the first set," said McKinney. "Northview got a break and then they served out the set.?"Chase and Merrick finished the season well, but really never got into the second set today."?
At No. 2 doubles, Brock Lawson, who started the season at No. 2 singles, played with Caleb Mershon for the Knights. They survived a close first set and came away with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Linton's Kyle Cooper and Luke Knight.
"I honestly believe this team is better than last year's," said West, whose Knights improved to 10-5. "Austin and Clint played very well but Adam just ran into a Linton player who was on top of his game.?"Once we took the first set in both doubles, they seemed to relax and played a stronger second set," said West.
While Northview focuses on the second round of the state tournament, McKinney was thinking about next season.
"We will miss George," he said of Fritch. "The good thing is we have six kids returning, but Northview also has six kids returning as well. We know what we have in front of us and how much work we have to do if we want to win the sectional next year. But this is a good group of kids and I am looking forward to next year."
Notes: This was the fourth meeting between the Knights and Miners in the boys tennis sectional since 1998. Northview beat Linton 4-1 in the title match nine years ago.?In 2001, Northview beat the Miners 4-1 in a first-round contest. Four years later, the Linton beat Northview 3-2 in the semifinals but then lost to Greencastle 4-1 in the title match.
This was the fourth appearance in the finals for Linton since McKinney took over in 1998.
Northview Boys Tennis Sectional
Sectional championship match
Northview 4, Linton 1
1. Austin Akers (N) d. George Fritch, 6-1, 6-3
2. Seth Herndon (L) d. Adam Clark, 7-5, 6-1
3. Clint Reynolds (N) d. Kris Shipman, 6-0, 6-1
1. Ryne Barr/Matt Nodley (N) d. Merrick McBride-Chase Rhoten, 6-3, 6-2
2. Brock Lawson-Caleb Mershon (N) d. Kyle Cooper-Luke Knight, 7-5, 6-1
Boys Tennis?Northview Sectional
Recent Championship Scores
1997 -- Bloomfield 3, Northview 2
1998 -- Northview 4, Linton 1
1999 -- Northview 5, White River Valley 0
2000 -- Rockville 3, Owen Valley 2
2001 -- Rockville 3, White River Valley 2
2002 -- Owen Valley 3, White River Valley 2
2003 -- Owen Valley 4, Northview 1
2004 -- Linton 3, Owen Valley 2
2005 -- Greencastle 4, Linton 1
2006 -- Northview 4, Greencastle 1
2007 -- Northview 4, Linton 1