North edges Munster, advances to state semis

By Mark Ambrogi
For The Republic

INDIANAPOLIS — Columbus North boys tennis coach Kendal Hammel knew Friday’s state quarterfinals hinged on one crucial point.

It just was a matter where it would come from.

“Going into the match, we felt confident about No. 1 and 2 singles, and the other three points were up for grabs honestly,” Hammel said. “They were close all three positions all the way. I’m very pleased in every position. We knew it was going to be a battle in those three spots. We just had to get one of them. The Munster coach (Patrick Spohr) told me he felt the same thing, they couldn’t touch us at No. 1 or 2 singles; they just had to win all of the other three.”

North senior Eric Stavnheim and freshman Parth Shah defeated Adam Muntean and Nicholas Stephen 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 to grab the clinching point in the No. 2 Bull Dogs’ 3-2 victory over No. 9 Munster in the Boys Tennis state quarterfinals at the UIndy Tennis Center. The decision was made to move indoors Thursday due to a rainy forecast.

“It would have been great if it was 4-1 or 5-0, but we did what we needed to do. We get to play (today),” Hammel said. “The No. 2 doubles took a lot of pressure off everyone. They played great. That’s a very good doubles team from Munster. They were unbeaten. Eric and Parth played really well. Even in the second set, they came from behind, got the big (service) break, and Eric served it out. They played a huge match at that spot.”

The Bull Dogs (18-1) will play No. 1 Carmel (22-0) in today’s 10 a.m. semifinals at Carmel High School. The Greyhounds advanced with a 4-1 triumph over No. 5 North Central in the quarterfinals. Carmel handed the Bull Dogs their only loss 4-1 on Aug. 31.

Against Munster (17-5), the Bull Dogs quickly went up 2-0 when senior Nathan Lin defeated Joseph Foster 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, and Lin’s younger brother Hank Lin, a freshman, was a 6-1, 6-0 winner over Ryan Muntean at the No. 2 spot.

“We’ve been playing well all week long,” Hammel said. “In practices, I felt like the guys have been hitting the ball well. Playing against each other and drilling well. I think they fully believed we were ready for this match.’’

At No. 3 singles, North sophomore Anvay Atram retired against Munster’s Michael Fesko when he began suffering leg cramps. He was leading 2-0 in the third set when he retired. He won the first set 7-5 and lost the second set 7-5.

“Anvay started all really well, came back and won the first set,” Hammel said. “He had an opportunity in the second set and just didn’t finish. The cramping got him in trouble. By that time, we had won the match. We chose that to make sure he wasn’t hurt for tomorrow.”

The Bull Dogs’ No. 1 doubles team of senior Matthew Liu and sophomore Amrit Kar lost in two tiebreaker sets 7-6 (12-10), 7-6 (8-6) to Charles Morton and Daniel Sroka.

Hammel said the regular-season match with Carmel was close.

“We feel confident going into the match against Carmel that we can possibly turn those tables,” Hammel said. “We’re not going to go in saying, ‘Dadgummit, you can probably put Carmel down.’”

Hank Lin got the only point in three sets in the first meeting against the Greyhounds. Nathan Lin, lost a tough match to Carmel’s Broc Fletcher at No. 1 singles.

Nathan said he feels healthier going into this meeting. He said he had two scraped knees that bothered him in the previous match.

“The first time, I was injured from another match,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll be moving better and more prepared compared to last time.”

Nathan, who improved to 18-2, was certainly prepared Friday.

“We knew they were No. 9 in the state, so we had to start out strong,” he said. “We had to get a good warmup and get ourselves in the right mental state to play the match. I think it’s having the right mental attitude to go into a match. Getting the right food before the match, eating well and staying healthy.”

The Bull Dogs lost to North Central 4-1 in last year’s state quarterfinals. North lost to Carmel 4-1 in the state semifinals in 2019 and lost 3-2 to Park Tudor in the 2018 state quarterfinals.