LAPORTE -- It took
a lot of losses, four of them to be exact, for the Chesterton boys tennis
team to finally break through and win a match on the regional stage.
The Trojans made
history on Tuesday afternoon as Chesterton knocked off New Prairie 4-1 in
the LaPorte regional semifinals. The win was the first regional semifinal
victory in program history, ending a streak of four straight years where the
Trojans saw their season come to an end in the semis.
“I told the boys
before the match that we had a lot to play for today,” Chesterton coach Tom
Bour said. “This was our fifth straight trip here and we haven’t been able
to get it done. This means a lot for our program.”
The Trojans (12-5)
saw their season take a turn three weeks ago following a regular-season loss
to rival Valparaiso. The players approached Bour about making a lineup
change, notably shifting senior Chad Whelan from the top of the singles
lineup to the No. 1 doubles team with Nick Hanson.
“We lost to Valpo
and something had to change,” Whelan said. “We talked out what we thought
would work. We came up with the changes and brought them to Coach.”
Whelan and Hanson
held up their end of the deal on Tuesday with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Levi
Britton and Joseph Henning. Cordyon Gaff, who moved to No. 2 singles in the
switch, knocked off Josh Ferrell with a 7-6 (8), 6-0 win.
Hanson was thrilled
with Tuesday’s victory, but he wasn’t ready to start celebrating quite yet.
“The job’s not done
yet,” Hanson said. “We were done celebrating after we said “Let’s go
Trojans.” Now it’s time to move on and get ready.”
emotional about the win, but the seventh-year head coach was more
reflective, choosing to think about all the Chesterton players who have come
through the program only to fall short of a regional victory. Each of those
players were on Bour’s mind in the final moments of Tuesday’s match.
are unbelievably a big part of this,” Bour said. “The boys know the history
of this program. None of these guys wanted to be part of the team that was
the first to break the streak (of five straight sectional titles). I can’t
even tell you how many phone calls and texts I got after we won a sectional.
It shows those guys are still thinking of us. Guys that are off in college
now, they’re still paying attention.”
Liapes knocked off Nicholas Boyd 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles while the No. 2
doubles team of James Navarro and Drew Engles picked up Chesterton’s other
point with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Colten Kitchen and Issac Kuczmanski.
Now the Trojans
will get a tough match with Penn, the same team that knocked them out of
regional play last season. While the players feel like they match up with
the Kingsmen better now with a new lineup than they did during an
early-season loss to Penn, there’s still no doubt Wednesday’s regional title
match will be one of Chesterton’s hardest tests of the year.
“We can celebrate
what we’ve accomplished after it’s all over,” Liapes said. “We’re not going
to be favored (against Penn). We do a good job when we’re the underdogs
because we can go out there and play free.”
Chesteron 4, New
Singles -- 1. Luke
Liapes (C) d. Nicholas Boyd 6-2, 6-3; 2. Corydon Gaff (C) d. Josh Ferrell
7-6 (8), 6-0; 3. Wrigley Hemphill (NP) d. Troy Feller 7-6 (1), 6-1.
DOUBLES -- 1. Nick
Hanson/Chad Whelan (C) d. Levi Britton/Joseph Henning 6-1, 6-4; 2. James
Navarro/Drew Engles (C) d. Colten Kitchen/Issac Kuczmanski 6-1, 6-2.