Bull Dogs capture 5th straight regional tennis title

BLOOMINGTON — With the match knotted at 2-2, all eyes were on the No. 2 doubles match.

Columbus North’s Parth Shah and Parth Gupta found themselves trailing 4-3 in the second set, with Bloomington South gaining momentum in hopes of heading to a third set.

Shah and Gupta slammed the door shut and rallied off three straight games to capture the set and match over Bloomington South’s Josh Song and David Ciucu 6-4, 6-4 to lift the fourth-ranked Bull Dogs to a 3-2 win over the ninth-ranked Panthers to capture the boys tennis regional title Wednesday night.

North (23-2), which won its fifth consecutive regional crown, moves on to play Evansville Memorial in the Jasper Semistate on Saturday for a spot in the state quarterfinals.

“Coming into the match, we expected it to be 2-2, and we knew it would be down to us,” Gupta said. “It didn’t cause more pressure, but it caused us to get more hyped. It encouraged us to play better.”

Shah said we was determined to not the match go into the third set.

“We had a little bit of pressure (in the second set), but we overcame it,” Shah said. “We had our team supporting us, and we were hitting solid balls. We didn’t want a third set because that’s when the pressure really kicks in.”

Shah and Gupta showed a lot of poise and resiliency to win those last three games, including breaking their opponents’ service game twice.

“They got a little tight. I think they forgot they were ahead and had the advantage,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “Once we got through to them a little bit to stay the aggressor and not let these guys dictate the points, they stepped up. They had good service games, good ground strokes and there was a couple bad shots here and there. Overall, they stepped up and took care of business, so I was really proud of that.”

The other four matches went much quicker. The Bull Dogs got the other two wins at its top singles and doubles positions.

At No. 1 singles, Hank Lin defeated Mike Asplund 6-2, 6-3. At No. 1 doubles, Amrit Kar and Anvay Atram topped Luka Jovanovic and Evan Cantor 6-1, 6-1.

At No. 2 singles, North’s Austin Clark fell to Chris Lian 6-2, 6-2. At No. 3 singles, Steven Sun lost to Alex Busch 6-0, 6-2.

“This team has been very surprising, it’s been very fun. We’ve won a lot of 3-2 matches, we just don’t blowout anybody,” Hammel said. “But because of 1 singles and 1 doubles, they have taken care of business all season long. Now we just needed that third spot somewhere. It’s got to continue on to that same situation to carry us and continue on down the road.”