Perhaps more this season than in years’ past, Columbus North boys tennis coach Kendal Hammel has tinkered with his doubles lineup.
One player has been a constant, however. Although he’s had three partners, junior Nathan VanDeventer has been at No. 1 doubles throughout the season and will be there again today when the Bull Dogs compete in the Bloomington North Regional.
VanDeventer began the season with Daniel Larken, his partner at No. 2 doubles last season. Then, Ammar Khaled played some No. 1 doubles before Larken and Khaled settled at No. 2 doubles, and freshman Kevin Lin moved up to No. 1 doubles.
“They all could have done well,” Hammel said. “I just like what Kevin brought to the court as far as volleying and hitting good, solid groundstrokes and relaxing and playing. I thought they had a nice fit there.”
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VanDeventer moved up to No. 1 doubles after playing No. 2 doubles the past two years.
“The opponents hit the ball faster, they put more spin and they’re smarter players, so it was more of a challenge for me this year,” VanDeventer said.
“But Kevin has been like my little brother, and he’s helped me get through this process, and we’re starting to become a good doubles team.”
Lin was surprised to find himself playing No. 1 doubles this early in his high school career.
“The past few years, I’ve played a lot of tournaments, so I got some experience with the pressure,” Lin said. “I never thought I’d make varsity this year.”
But since teaming together, the pair have jelled.
“I like playing with Kevin,” VanDeventer said. “He’s a good volleyer, so he’s good at the net, and I sit well at the baseline. We’re a pretty good duo.”
“We fit with each other, kind of like a puzzle piece,” Lin said. “He has good groundstrokes, and I have decent volleys. We’ve had close matches which we probably should have won, but we’re getting better.”
One of those losses came in Thursday’s North Sectional semifinals against Columbus East’s Matt Furnish and Sammy Woolwine. The victory by the East juniors, and a win by Olympian senior Alex Galle at No. 1 singles, allowed them to advance in the Individual Singles and Doubles Tournament.
North (12-7) will play at 5 p.m. today against the winner of Monday’s Seymour Sectional final between the host Owls and Brownstown Central. The winner could face eighth-ranked Bloomington North in Wednesday’s regional championship.
“We’ll most likely see Bloomington North in the regional final, and we have their number,” VanDeventer said.
“They’ve beaten us twice already this year, but I think if we believe and come together, the team and Kevin and I can give Bloomington North a run for its money.”
Bloomington North boys tennis regional
5 p.m.: Columbus North vs. Seymour-Brownstown Central winner
5 p.m.: Bloomington North vs. Jennings County-Greensburg winner
5 p.m.: Championship