BY JAMES PENCE
For The Republic
It took an extra day to determine the winner of the Columbus North boys tennis sectional final, with Friday’s rain delaying it to Saturday morning.
The rest did not faze the 23rd-ranked Bull Dogs. They put away Brown County quickly to capture the championship 5-0.
North coach Kendal Hammel made sure his team did not take Brown County lightly.
“I thought we played very well, with having a couple of alternates in there,” Hammel said. “We focused on not looking past Brown County. We saw them the other night and thought they were a good team. They had good players in singles and doubles. You never know what can happen, especially with what happened (Wednesday) night against Columbus East.”
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Nathan VanDeventer, who had to retire in his match Wednesday because of a wrist injury suffered in weights class, was back in the lineup Saturday. He showed no signs of pain as he pushed past Brown County’s Cash Myers 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
“It felt all right, but I did not have as much power as I usually play with,” VanDeventer said. “It kind of helped me because (Myers) played with a lot more power and (was) more prone to make mistakes. It also helped me keep the ball in a lot more.”
VanDeventer said he wants to play Tuesday when the Bull Dogs (15-6) play in the regional at Bedford North Lawrence. Hammel is optimistic about his chances.
“If he got by today and he is not hurting over the weekend, he should be good to go for next week,” Hammel said.
At No. 2 singles, Akshaya Sabapathy topped Brown County’s Cole Smith 6-0, 6-1. At No. 1 doubles, the duo of Kevin Lin and Ammar Khaled downed Brown County’s Abe Oliver and Jesse Williams 6-0, 6-1, and at No. 2 doubles, North’s Isaac Jackson and Walker Thomas defeated Austin Roush and Aaron McCann 6-1, 6-1.
The most competitive match was at No. 3 singles, where North’s Ben Mathew had to earn each point against Chase Watson. Mathew eventually prevailed 6-1, 6-2 in a match that was closer than the final score indicated.
“I definitely played much better today. I was more confident and was hitting my forehand better,” Mathew said. “The second set got shaky, but I was able to pick it up. My backhand gave me an advantage. (Watson) was hitting everyone back, but I knew if I could place it in the right spot, I would be fine.”
Brown County coach Kevin Roush said it was overall a good season, which ended with a 10-8 record.
“They got better and played better tennis at the end,” Roush said. “I was proud of how well we played and won (3-2) against Hauser (Thursday). They beat us earlier in the season. Today, they played good tennis against a good Columbus North team.”