Impressed? No, but Cat pair remains perfect

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Jasper’s Grant Weaver connected on a backhand Tuesday at the Ed Yarbrough Tennis Complex, where Weaver cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 victory and Jasper won every other match 6-0, 6-0 to subdue Big Eight Conference foe Vincennes Lincoln. Weaver improved to 18-0 on the season for the ninth-ranked Cats. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor
JASPER — Grant Weaver and Logan Mathies are like discerning artists with an eye for perfection.

Largely, they’re not impressed with themselves. Weaver classified his play as lackadaisical Tuesday afternoon when he won 12 of 13 games as Jasper breezed 6-0, 6-0 everywhere else in an express 5-0 waxing of Vincennes Lincoln at the Ed Yarbrough Tennis Complex. Weaver, the Wildcats’ No. 2 singles player, remained undefeated on the season, as did Logan Mathies at No. 3 singles. Big deal, though, Mathies said. He expected as much.

The unblemished runs are ho-hum to them. But they’re big news to Wildcat coach Scott Yarbrough, who ventured to say this could be the first time the Cats have ever reached this latter point in the season with both their 2 and 3 singles players undefeated at those positions.

“I think it’s extremely impressive,” Yarbrough said. “We haven’t had (an undefeated) kid at 2 or 3 — one or the other — and we’ve got them both going on at the same time. I think that’s probably what’s more impressive than anything else.”

It’s also telling of the proficiency of the player who’s ahead of them, Yarbrough said, referencing third-year No. 1 singles player Eli Seng. All three of those guys have accrued plenty of success on the tournament circuit, as Weaver qualified for a high-level USTA tourney this summer, and Mathies accomplished the same thing last year.

This fall, two opponents have taken Weaver to a third set. But none of the 18 opponents has found a way to beat a guy who’s just as likely to finish a point with a slick slice or a soft volley as a free-swinging winner.

“I don’t know if I was expecting to have any losses, but you have to be competitive,” Weaver said. “You can’t just expect things that you don’t have yet. You’ve got to stay focused. Not all matches are easy. There’s some really good competition (we play), but there’s a lot of teams that we play that aren’t that good, and you’ve just got to stay focused to make sure you get off the court and get it done.”

Some of the challenges they face are of the self-applied variety. When Weaver struggled to find the touch on his forehand last week, he stayed an extra 15 minutes after practice with Yarbrough to practice the stroke in rapid-fire succession as he polished his balance, footwork and positioning.

On the neighboring court to Weaver, Mathies typically encounters fewer challenges still. Yarbrough commends Mathies for soldiering through many one-sided matches, and he senses the sophomore becomes bored when wins arrive so freely.

The intrateam competition, that’s another story.

Weaver, a junior, and Mathies are the likely heirs to the No. 1 singles post when Seng graduates. Next year, the competition for the position should be rich. This year, it’s already been vigorous.

“Me and Weaver, we had some pretty close challenge matches this year, and it’s pretty much up for grabs,” Mathies said. “He kind of prevailed in the matches we played. I think I took a set off Eli in the challenges, but Eli cleans up.”

Mathies does his share of it, too.

“I expected to go undefeated at 3 singles for most of the year up until the state (finals) area, because that’s where I’ll see more of my better competition,” said Mathies, who sustained a loss when he bumped up to No. 2 singles for a match but is perfect in his time at 3.

“And I think my team expects me to clean up there. They expect to win, and I basically get it for them.”

Mathies will surely get the challenge he’s thirsting for at this weekend’s Center Grove Invitational, which will include a tussle with top-ranked Carmel.

By then, Yarbrough expects his oft-changing doubles combos will be firmed up at long last. Luke Hochgesang and Joe Kemker have gotten settled as the No. 1 pair, while Ben Seng continues with his partner du jour routine at No. 2 doubles; he played with Alex Allen in Tuesday’s triumph.

As the doubles pairs continue to gather experience with each other, it’s a bit like opposite world for the Cats — doubles has long been their calling card, and now the gusto has arrived in singles.

“We just haven’t had a kid do this in a long time, and I think it speaks volumes for those kids and the time they’ve put in,” Yarbrough said of Weaver and Mathies. “It’s a direct result of those guys putting in time and committing to a sport. It’s not easy to do on our schedule, and they’ve done it.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.




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