Bull Dogs sweep Cougars for boys tennis regional title

It took an extra day and a change of venue because of rain, but the second-ranked Columbus North boys tennis team dominated Bloomington North to win the regional 5-0 Thursday night at Tipton Lakes Athletic Club.

The Bull Dogs advance to take on No. 20 Floyd Central in the Jasper Semistate that will be played at 11 a.m. today.

The regional final originally was supposed to take place Wednesday at Bloomington South, but was postponed to Thursday when rain fell as team introductions were happening. With the threat of rain also in the forecast Thursday, the decision was made to move the match to Columbus with TLAC having the courts available to the players at night.

“Whether it was indoors or out, we were glad to get it in,” Columbus North coach Kendal Hammel. “It was scheduled for (Wednesday) night to play indoors, but we chose to outside and try it, and it didn’t work…It was nice to be able to play here at Tipton Lakes and not go over to Bloomington, but we haven’t been playing here, anyway, so it was the same for everybody.”

Regardless of where the match would have been played, the outcome would’ve likely been the same.

The Bull Dogs (16-1) took care of business quickly and dropped only nine games as a team in the five matches.

“We wanted to come out with the same concept of taking a couple of the key spots and doing what we needed to do to step up our game,” Hammel said. “Whether it was the jitters or indoors, I didn’t think we played as well in some of our spots that we needed to, but I think overall, Nathan (Lin) got things started right off the bat (at No. 1 singles) and that was huge to getting this team to not getting nervous and being able to play.”

Nathan Lin and Hank Lin both won their matches 6-0, 6-0 against Nick Shirley and Seth Force at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively.

“It feels good,” Nathan Lin said. “Even though it was a different environment, I think most of us like to play indoors more than outdoors. We’ve all been working hard getting ready for the state tournament, and we’re prepared to show the state we deserve the second rank. Everyone as a whole has been working hard, the coaches and all the players, we’ve been grinding all the practices every day getting ready for the tournament.”

At No. 3 singles, Anvay Atram topped Connor O’Guinn 6-3, 6-1. At No. 1 doubles, Matthew Liu and Amrit Kar defeated Nate Abdullah and Tyler Wilson 6-2, 6-2. At No. 2 doubles, Eric Stavnheim and Parth Shah downed Casey McIntyre and Esteban Crespo 6-0, 6-1.

Now, the focus turns to Floyd Central, who the Bull Dogs beat 5-0 during the regular season. Hammel said the team likely will enter with the same mindset again heading into today.

“Don’t look past them, but again, it’s the same concept of what we need to do in order to step and play against them,” Hammel said. “We’ve been saying, ‘This is our season of champions.’ Little by little, it’s going to be tougher, and we know that. We got to be able to raise to the level and play the better tennis, as well.”