North tops East for coach’s 700th win

Columbus North coach Kendal Hammel was not in on the secret going into Tuesday’s boys tennis match against Columbus East.

Hammel had no idea that beating the Olympians would give him his 700th career victory. The rest of the team was aware and greeted Hammel with balloons and posters after the match.

Columbus North tennis coach Kendal Hammel
Columbus North tennis coach Kendal Hammel

Hammel now has 361 boys dual-match wins and 339 girls dual wins.

“I did not even know that it was out there because I don’t normally keep track of that stuff,” Hammel said following the Bull Dogs’ 5-0 victory. “Everybody knew about it except for me, I guess. I’m excited. That’s good and fun … it was a nice 700th win the way we went out and played against East today.”

North, which is tied for No. 23 in this week’s state rankings, was playing in its first dual match of the season. The Bull Dogs put this one away early, winning four of the five matches by shutout.

Luke Miller was the only East player to win games, falling 6-1, 6-2 to Akshaya Sabapathy at No. 3 singles.

“He was really assertive with his forehand,” East coach Matt Malinsky said of Miller. “He was really going for it, and I think as the match went on, it started to level out a little bit with the risk and reward. He was getting rewarded a little bit earlier on in those sets and got a few games out of it. Then, it started to level out and make a few more mistakes there, but I was really happy with the way he played.”

North’s Kevin Lin won both of his sets 6-0 at No. 1 singles against Jackson Stevens. The Bull Dogs’ Joey Zhao competed against Bryce Buening at No. 2 singles and also won 6-0, 6-0.

Isaac Jackson and Ben Larson won 6-0, 6-0 against East’s Caige Comstock and Pranav Kumar at No. 1 doubles. The North duo of Chris Ruble and Adam Saad at No. 2 doubles also won 6-0, 6-0 against Nathan Hatchett and Jalen Pleak.

The Olympians lost many of their varsity players from graduation in the spring, and Malinsky said his players knew they were overmatched at some of the positions against the Bull Dogs.

“Those guys are really talented,” Malinsky said. “They’ve got tons of skill on their varsity roster. Their depth is also very good. It was a tough matchup at those positions, and those guys did very well. They took care of business today.”

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.