The Columbus East boys tennis team put up a strong fight against Hoosier Hills Conference perennial power house Jeffersonville in the semifinals of the HHC tournament Wednesday night.
But in the end, the 19th-ranked Red Devils overcame the Olympians in a 4-1 decision.
The lone victory for East came at No. 2 singles where Neeraj Pandita downed Neh Thaker 6-1, 6-0.
“I’ve been working really hard all season to swing through,” Pandita said. “I have been getting my first serves in, and that has been really helping me out.”
“Neeraj has been key, and he has been playing extremely well for us this year,” East coach Jim Stone said.
Jeffersonville picked up three quick victories to put away the match. At No. 1 singles, Brad Cross defeated the Olympians Matt Furnish 6-1, 6-1.
“Matt needs to keep the ball high, over the net and a little bit deeper in the court to get the other guys moving around,” Stone said. “When he gets those opportunities, come in at him.”
At No. 3 singles, Keith Asplund topped East’s Ben Kuhlman 6-1, 6-1. At No. 2 doubles, Colby Kayrouz and Gerrin Moore downed the East duo of Austin Guse and Jackson Stevens 6-0, 6-1.
The most competitive match of the night came at No. 1 doubles. Jeffersonville’s Jerid Inman and Trey Bottorff captured the first set 6-2. Sammy Woolwine and Daniel Kuhlman fought back to claim the second set 6-3.
In the decisive third set, Woolwine and Kuhlman broke serve to lead 2-0. Inman and Bottorff then fought back to win the next three games to get back on serve. With the set tied at 4-4, Inman and Bottorff claimed the final two games to win the set 6-4.
“They got off to a slow start because whenever they split the first two sets, they usually lose the first one,” Stone said. “We have to figure out how we can start quicker in the first set. If they can get going early, maybe they would not have to split sets.
“Daniel played really well tonight,” he said. “He has been having trouble serving with his shoulder, and he served well. Overall, they need to maintain the momentum. We were ahead in the third set, but then we lost some keys points, which got the other team confident.”
The Olympians (9-4) will host (New Albany/Floyd Central) in the third-place match at 5:30 p.m. Friday.