By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — KOKOMO — The regional semifinal boys tennis match between Logansport and Taylor came down to the No. 1 singles spot.
In a marathon match that included a long tie-break, many deuce points and countless long rallies, Logansport’s Bryan Zehner outlasted Taylor’s Jack Lipchik 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-3 to secure a 3-2 win for the Berries.
“It was a very close match. I played a great player who’s very consistent,” Zehner said. “I’ve played him all my life. He’s always hung in there with me. He’s one of my best friends really. It couldn’t have been a better match, really.
“He’s beaten me before. It’s always been close.”
The other four matches were decided before Zehner and Lipchik had finished their first set.
Lucas Eastburn defeated Casey Glick 6-3, 6-0 at No. 3 singles, and the Berries got their other point at No. 2 doubles where Matt Jennings and Jared Cole defeated Connor Leicht and Treaver Harris 6-1, 6-3.
Kamden Kimbler defeated Nathaniel Eastburn 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles for the Titans (15-4), and Austin Douglas and Cole Schroeder continued their season with a 7-6 (2), 6-3 win over Dustin Clements and Kaleb Overway at No. 1 doubles.
Zehner (19-4) and Lipchik (19-4) are good friends and are doubles partners in summer circuit play. Zehner plans to play at Trine and Lipchik plans to play at Southern Indiana.
“He definitely had a good start. He started off 4-1 in the first set against me,” Zehner said. “As it went on my shots started to get better and we started rallying longer. We just got into a rally match.”
Zehner was able to recover after a tough loss in the first set. In the third set he broke Lipchik to take a 4-2 lead and was able to hold serve from there.
“I definitely served better once we got new balls in the third set. That was probably the best I served the whole match,” he said. “Yeah, it was crucial breaking his serve. Once I did I had the match.”
Logansport coach Mike Montgomery said the match was nerve-racking for him but was glad that Zehner was going to decide it.
“If it has to come down to needing one point, he’s our best player and who I’ve got the most confidence to go to with something like that,” he said.
“Lucas played really well at 3 singles, and 2 doubles was solid. They’ve been a good point for us all year.”
Montgomery credited Taylor’s improvement after the Berries defeated the Titans 4-1 early in the year.
“Their No. 1 doubles team was remarkably different. They were so much more aggressive so credit them there,” he said. “Unfortunately for Dustin and Kaleb it’s been that kind of year. They came out like gangbusters the first three games and led 3-0 and struggled the rest of the way.”
Montgomery said King’s opponent was like a backboard and wished King would have been more patient in his approach.
Taylor coach Dave Wise picked up his 400th coaching win earlier this year in his 39th season and nearly got a regional win in the Titans’ first appearance since 1981.
“It looked good early. Jack was up on him the first set, got the first set. The second set was really close,” Wise said. “The kid just wears you down. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a No. 1 singles player that has that style that plays it that well. I didn’t have any words of wisdom for Jack, because what do you tell him. The kid doesn’t make very many mistakes. So it was a great match but it just didn’t come out in our favor.
“But the kids played really, really well all up and down the lineup. It was a really good season for us. You’d like to keep going. But you think there’s a team that was in second place in the North Central Conference, was 17-3 with their schedule. So we played them right down to the wire.”
The Berries (18-3) will face No. 1-ranked Carmel (20-1) in the regional final at 4:30 p.m. today. Carmel defeated Harrison 5-0 on Tuesday.
Zehner, who plays tennis year around, said he has some experience playing against players from Carmel.
“I’ve played one of their No. 1 doubles guys and we went into deuce every single game. So it was close. I saw their 1 singles guy playing against Harrison and I’ve competed with the Harrison guy. And he got some games against Carmel so I think I can stay up there somewhat,” he said. “Carmel’s just good all around. The guy from last year won the 16-year-old national tournament. Now he’s sponsored. That’s why he’s not playing any more in high school.”
Said Montgomery, “I hope our guys enjoy the night and don’t go in there thinking they can’t get anything done. They should be relaxed. Nobody is expecting them to win. They shouldn’t be tight like this match. Enjoy the experience and don’t roll over and think you can’t compete.
“They’ve been the class of the state the last three years. They’re ranked No. 1 for a reason. There’s not many holes in their game at the high school level. I told the guys not a lot is expected and go and give it their best.”