Times Sports Editor
The Northview boys' tennis team made the first step towards picking up its fourth straight sectional championship by defeating a scrappy Linton squad 3-2.
"I think everybody thought this was going to be easy because we beat them 4-1 in the regular season, but I knew playing (Linton) straight up was going to be tough," Northview coach Mark Orr. "I thought we'd beat them 3-2 and we did and we won where I thought we would. Doubles pulled it out and we needed that and I figured Caleb (Mershon) could win his."
Linton coach Brad McKinney also mentioned how tough the loss was for his squad and his three seniors.
"(Northview) is a good team. We knew coming in that they were a good team. They've been playing well and we've been on a roll lately too," McKinney said. "It came down to No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles and for me that was in the hands of our three seniors and that's kind of where you want it to be in a match like this. A mistake here and there and a couple of unforced errors that we should have cleaned up here and there, it's heartbreaking because we felt like we really had a shot at this thing. We were matched up with them pretty well, but we just came out on the short end of the stick in some really tight matches."
"I didn't want to give them a good look at our sectional lineup, McKinney admitted. "(In the first match between Northview and Linton), Northview had come down to watch us against North Central so I thought we'd throw them a little bit of a curveball and not let them see our sectional lineup so they didn't get a look at the kids they'd be playing against and maybe not have as much time to work on strategy."
Linton was able to score wins at No. 2 and No. 3 singles as Seth Herndon won 6-1, 6-2 against Carson Kleiber and Chris Shipman won over the Knights' Trent Sims, 6-2, 6-3.
Northview's No. 2 doubles team of Dillon Reynolds and Sam Miller scored a 6-2, 6-1 win against the Miners' Taylor Sloan and Cody Kocher to complete the evening's first match.
However, the two pivotal matches were at No. 1 singles as Chase Rhoten and Caleb Mershon squared off in a battle.
Mershon won the first set 6-2, but the second set went the distance as each competitor looked for the upper hand. In the end, Mershon was the winner in a 7-5 second set victory.
"It was getting a little heated, Orr said. "But both of those kids are competitors. Neither one of those kids like to lose, I know the Linton kid is that way and so is Caleb. It was a good match."
With the match squared at 2-apiece, the No. 1 doubles match was going to decide each team's postseason fate.
Northview's Joey Thomas and Caleb Andrews came back from trailing 3-0 in the first game and later, 5-4, before taking a key 7-6 (7-3) game via tiebreaker. In the second set, the duo was able to get past Merrick McBride and Luke Knight to claim the win in a 6-4 victory.
"(Linton's No. 2 doubles) was better than I thought they'd be. I thought they'd be good, but they took our team to the wire," Orr said. "Our doubles team has been so consistent, you count on them to win every time, but I knew they'd pull it out. They made the comeback that they needed to (make), it's so important to win that first set. I'm just glad that it didn't go to a third set because anything can happen."
The Knights advance to this evening's sectional title match against Owen Valley, a 5-0 winner over Greencastle. The match is slated for 5 p.m.
Linton concludes its season with a 7-8 overall mark.
Northview 3, Linton 2
No. 1: Caleb Mershon (Nv) wins over Chase Rhoten (Ln), 6-2, 7-5
No. 2: Seth Herndon (Ln) wins over Carson Kleiber (Nv), 1-6, 2-6
No. 3: Chris Shipman (Ln) wins over Trent Sims (Nv), 2-6, 3-6
No. 1: Joey Thomas and Caleb Andrews (Nv) wins over Merrick McBride and Luke Knight (Ln), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
No. 2: Dillon Reynolds and Sam Miller (Nv) wins over Taylor Sloan and Cody Kocher (Ln), 6-1, 6-1
Owen Valley 5, Greencastle 0
No. 1: Ethan Hoadley (OV) wins over Kenneth Buchanan (Gc), 6-0, 6-2
No. 2: Quinn Wilson (OV) wins over Jacob Kass (Gc), 6-3, 6-3
No. 3: David Deatrick (OV) wins over Landon Miller (Gc)
No. 1: Gabe McHaley and Donovan Jones (OV) wins over Matthew Hendrich and Anthony Gerrard (Gc), 6-2, 6-2
No. 2: Dalton Vest and Corbin Worland (OV) wins over Cyrus Spencer and Kaden Faust (Gc), 6-1, 6-2