By Matt Anderson
— The Ben Davis tennis team defeated Ritter 5-0 Saturday morning to claim the sectional title.
The sweep was their second of the sectional. They bested Crispus Attucks, 5-0, in the first round.
The Giants’ championship game against Ritter was the second time both teams faced off this year. The Giants won the previous matchup 5-0 as well.
“Our kids started off playing maybe not to lose rather than playing to win and I think Ritter came in fired up,” Ben Davis coach Kevin Vanderbush said. “Once they got that first set under their belts they relaxed and played like they were capable of and they played a lot better in the second sets.”
The Giants won in straight sets at each position. Ben Davis’ three singles players — Jacob Volbers, Ian Deiters, and Klye Witt — each won their first sets 6-4 before putting their opponents away in the second set handily.
“All three of our singles players came out a little tight,” Vanderbush said. “We had a really tough match with Covenant and felt like that was going to be a big hurdle to get over.”
Their most challenging match in the sectional came against Covenant Christian, which the Giants took 3-2. Both doubles teams won and Deiters won the determining match at No. 2 singles (6-0, 7-6 (8-6)).
Covenant Christian’s Matt Engum battled. After losing the first set straight 6-0, Engum pushed Deiters in the second set.
Deiters had three match points before Engum tied him at six to force a tiebreaker. In the end, Engum could not find a sustainable lead and Deiters won the match after winning the tiebreaker, 8-6.
“Our guy just dug a little bit too big of a hole,” Covenant Christian coach Mike Zumbrun said. “It just felt like the whole match he was struggling just from a little bit behind, and kind of caught him but never got ahead.”
Covenant Christian’s strength all season had been the play of their three singles players. Zumbrun knew beforehand if they were going to beat Ben Davis for their third straight sectional title, they would have to win each of the three singles spots.
“We felt like we had a bit of an advantage at one singles and that they certainly had the advantages at the doubles positions, so from our end we didn’t really have any margin of that,” he said. “We really needed to win all three singles.”
Caleb Meadows beat Witt 6-1, 7-5 at No. 3 singles and Nathan Zumbrun recorded his 17th win of the season as he defeated Volbers 6-0, 6-3 at No. 1 singles. Zumbrun will advance individually in the state tournament, but will have to wait and see who his next opponent will be.
“He’s had a really strong season,” Mike Zumbrun said. “We’ll certainly be watching the paper real closely over the next couple of days to see if we can figure out who he might be playing.”
Covenant ends the season at 10-7 while Ben Davis will play Lebanon in the opening round of regionals next Tuesday.