Chesterton Tribune



Johny Mario clinches third straight Sectional title for CHS Boys Tennis with win over Valpo

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History repeats itself.

For the third consecutive year, the Chesterton boys tennis team picked up a 3-2 victory over Valparaiso to win the IHSAA Portage Sectional title.

“I’m so happy for our seniors who get to continue their season and I couldn’t be more proud of how we’ve come together as a team,” Chesterton coach Tom Bour said. “Everyone, from our less experienced players to our varsity guys, all have a tremendous attitude and as a coach that alone is something to be proud of.”

With a Sectional title in the balance, everyone’s concentration was on the No. 1 singles court. In a rousing three-set match, Trojan Johny Mario battled back from a set down to seal a 3-2 win for Chesterton.

"I still haven't come down yet," Mario said. "I'm just happy I could win it for the team. That was such a big deal for me. It's my senior year, and I'm glad I can help (lead) the team to victory today."

Mario fell behind losing 6-1 to Valpo’s Max Behrend in the first set, but fought back to win the next two sets 6-1, 6-4. The win also provided a birthday present for Johny's dad, who had said he just wanted a victory from his son for his birthday present.

"I started to realize this could be my last match in high school," Mario said. "I wanted to do everything I could to go out the right way. Regardless, win or lose, I wanted to remember I played well. The switch flipped on. I was definitely playing with an edge.

“Don’t get me wrong, Max is a great guy, but I remembered when I played him in the regular season, he won and let out a loud scream. That played a part in me playing with an edge today. I wasn’t going to lose this match.”

Bour wouldn't have wanted the Sectional on the line with anyone other than Mario.

“You can’t draw it up much better,” Bour said. “To have your senior captain out there in a third set in the Sectional Finals with your team’s fate in his hands, that’s so much pressure. That match just shows you the mental fortitude of Johny Mario and how far he's come. Two years ago, he might lose that match. He's been amazing with his mental toughness and he never thought he was out of it.

“He kept fighting and kept chipping away, then he got momentum and then we saw him roll. His confidence went up and all the pressure went to the other side.”

Chesterton’s other two wins also came in singles. At No. 2, Matt Jewison won 6-0, 6-4 over Matt Wanek and at No. 3 Blake Ellenwood beat Spencer Ross 6-0, 6-0.

“Johny doesn’t get that opportunity if it wasn’t for Matt and Blake,” Bour said. “They cruised through their matches in straight sets. Matt and Blake have been the table setters for us all season. They go out, get up early and then close the door on them.

“Matt gave up four games in the second set, but he showed his maturity and experience against that guy and prevailed there in the end. He didn’t panic.”

The Trojans (12-3) now have four overall Sectional titles.

"I feel so proud for these guys," Bour said. "They fought their tail off and we turned it around after playing poorly early on. It's unbelievable and all the credit goes to the kids. They work so hard and work hard in the off-season. (Assistant coach) Kyle (Prow) and I just point them in the right direction, but these boys are all so coachable."

“About six years, ago we were winning maybe three matches a year and now it’s been three years in a row that we’ve been Sectional champs,” Mario added. “The program has come such a long way.”

Valparaiso lost 4-1 to Chesterton during the Duneland Athletic Conference season, but adjusted their sectional lineup while the Trojans stood pat.

“They made a couple lineup changes and it was in their favor and made them stronger in doubles, but we weren’t going to adjust,” Bour said. "A lot of credit to Valpo because they fight us every year no matter how well we're playing. They always come out and give us a match and it's unbelievable what they continue to do over there."

In doubles, Cameron Cook and Chad Whelan lost 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1 to Matt Cory and Ray Kreloff. Ryan Harmon and Robert Morgia were beaten 6-3, 6-3 at No. 2 by Joe McMurtrey and Nick Feltgen.

The Trojans will face No. 14 South Bend St. Joseph’s in the IHSAA Portage Regional on Tuesday beginning at 4:15 p.m.

“Our focus now shifts to St. Joe in the Regional,” Bour said. “We’ll start preparing for them at practice (Friday) and again on Monday to get ourselves ready.”

IHSAA Sectional


Singles -- 1. Johny Mario (C) def. Max Behrend 1-6, 6-1, 6-4; 2. Matt Jewison (C) def. Matt Wanek 6-0, 6-4; 3. Blake Ellenwood (C) def. Spencer Ross 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles -- 1. Matt Cory/Ray Kreloff (V) def. Cameron Cook/Chad Whelan 6-3, 6-2; 2. Joe McMurtrey/Nick Feltgen (V) def. Ryan Harmon/Robert Morgia 6-3, 6-3.

Record: Chesterton 12-3.



Posted 9/30/3016




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