Olympians slam Panthers in conference tourney

The Columbus East boys’ tennis players only dropped eight games to crush visiting Jennings County 5-0 on Monday in the first round of the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament.

The Olympians move to Wednesday’s semifinals at No. 4-ranked Jeffersonville.

“Our goal has been to play our best at the end of the season,” East coach Jim Stone said. “We have played some quality teams recently and will continue to do that until the end of the season.

“So far, we have kept our intensity level up.”

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At No. 1 singles, the Olympians’ Alex Galle cruised through the first set 6-0 against the Panthers’ Owen Land. Galle ran into a bit of trouble to start the second set and was down 3-2, but stormed back and won the final four games to win 6-4 to end the match.

“I have to credit Owen, he exploited my weaknesses (in the second set) and hit a bunch of good shots,” Galle said. “The first set, I was getting a lot of first serves in and getting all my returns in and those are the two most important shots in tennis. Everything else followed.”

Jennings County coach Deron Brown said he liked seeing Land refocus after dropping the first set.

“He is a competitor and that is the thing he brings to the team,” Brown said. “Alex has a great serve and volley and his height presence makes it tough out there to work around him. It was a challenge for Owen. He stepped up his game, but Alex was just too much.”

At No. 2 singles, East’s JoJo Woolwine won easily against Jennings County’s Adam Jackson 6-0, 6-1. Neeraj Pandita of East had no trouble in putting away Austin Mills of Jennings County 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles.

Matt Furnish and Sammy Woolwine of the Olympians defeated Avery Jackson and Luke Ertel 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles. Daniel Kuhlman and Austin Guse of East prevailed over Justin Gasper and Bailey Wilder 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles.

Stone likes the progress both his doubles teams have made this season.

“Our No. 1 doubles has been playing extremely well recently,” Stone said. “They didn’t fall apart and kept playing aggressive.

“Our second doubles is starting to gel a little better. They are much more comfortable at the net. Austin has been getting a lot better at his volley shots.”

With sectionals next week, the conference tournament is a good tune-up considering the high quality of the competition.

“Even though it looked dominating on the scoreboard tonight, a lot of points were competitive and that is what I am looking for,” Brown said. “It is a good test for us just to see how much we progressed.

“We’re close to getting there.”