BLOOMINGTON — The Columbus North boys tennis team is gearing up for a regional final rematch against Bloomington North after beating Seymour in the opening round of the Bloomington North Regional on Tuesday.

The 24th-ranked Bull Dogs beat the Owls 5-0, but Joey Zhao had a tightly contested match at No. 2 singles. Zhao’s match against Seymour’s Adam Berry lasted for about two hours, culminating in a third-set super-tiebreaker.

Berry won the first set 6-3 before Zhao came back to win the second set 7-5. Zhao won the super-tiebreaker 10-7 to give the Bull Dogs their fifth point.

“Joey struggled today, and it was nice for him to figure out how to still pull that match off in that situation,” Columbus North coach Kendal Hammel said.

Kevin Lin beat Ty McCory 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, and Akshaya Sabapathy downed Isaac Hardin 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles. Isaac Jackson and Ben Mathew beat the Will Reinhart and Sam Schmidt 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles, and Chris Ruble and Adam Saad topped Pablo Jimenz and Trey Hofenstreiter 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.

Columbus North (17-4) will play No. 14 Bloomington North at 5 p.m. today in the regional championship. Seymour finishes its season 11-7.

“No matter what, all the way down the line knowing what’s coming up (today) against Bloomington North, we’re going to have to step up our game,” Hammel said. “When we lost to them in the regional last year until now, we were talking about is, ‘This is the matchup coming up against this team again. Let’s see how we do.’”

Columbus North lost 4-1 to the Cougars in last year’s regional and fell 3-2 in this year’s match that decided the Conference Indiana championship. Hammel said the message he is sending to his players before today’s match is to believe in themselves.

“They need to go out there and trust that they’ve been playing well,’ Hammel said. “We’ve had a great year. They have to just have fun, enjoy the battle and what they’re going to do in their matches. We know where we have advantages, and we know where they have advantages.”

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