Bell, Thyen to compete in Saturday regionalOctober 14, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Ethan Bell and Konner Thyen haven’t been paired together on the tennis court for very long. In fact, the Southridge senior duo weren’t even paired together last year as juniors, as both of them had different doubles partners.
The chemistry is there, though, as evidenced by their friendship and playing sports together since their younger days. And that chemistry has brought upon unquestionable success, which has led them to uncommon territory as Southridge tennis players.
The One Doubles pair for the Raiders will compete in the individual regional on Saturday at Bedford North Lawrence after pulling off an individual sectional championship, and it’s been a while since Southridge has gotten out of a tennis sectional.
The Raiders won their only boys team championship in 2005, and their last competitor in a boys regional came when Ben Flick competed in the 2006 singles regional his junior year. Flick won the first round of the North Central regional, but lost in the second round.
“It isn’t a huge sport at Southridge, and every year, we play Jasper in sectionals,” Bell said. “If we play Jasper, they’re amazing, so we never get out, and then we got the bye from them.”
Bell and Thyen got the better of Forest Park’s One Doubles pair — freshman Carter Fleck and sophomore Bryson Partenheimer — Sept. 30 on the first day of the Jasper sectional, 6-1, 6-2. However, they didn’t play Jasper the next day because the Rangers won the team matchup to advance to the sectional final.
Instead, they moved on to the individual sectional to play another local formidable pair of seniors in Tanner Hurt and Logan Lampert from Northeast Dubois — a duo that beat them twice in the regular season. Hurt and Lampert pushed Bell’s and Thyen’s backs against the wall when they came away with a 6-2 win in the first set. However, the Southridge tandem broke through with a 6-1 win in the second set and 6-4 in the decisive third set to bring them to where they are now.
“The third set was another battle,” Bell said. “They were a really good team, and we just came out on top.”
Bell told of playing with Thyen a few times in practice earlier this year, and then they clicked. They both adapted to the other person’s playing style, and it paid dividends. The pair proceeded to go 16-3 during the regular season, and are 2-0 so far in the playoffs.
“I play back a lot — a lot more ground strokes, and he’s usually at the net,” Bell said. “He’s really athletic. So, he can jump up, get the ball, get across the net really quick, and we’re both really quick. So, if it’s back, I’ll just run over and get it; and if it’s up, he’ll just slam it — and point.”
Bell and Thyen first noticed their potential together when they competed well against quality opponents. That’s when they realized that they weren’t bad. Raiders coach Paul Kinker knew they were both really good athletes, and added Thyen has improved his serving his senior year.
“I think they match up well together,” Kinker said. “I think Konner is a guy that can get a lot of the balls on the court. Ethan’s got touch for the lobs in the backcourt. It just made them a good combo.”
Kinker will miss the athleticism that Bell and Thyen bring to the table — and added that they’re good kids. He likes how fun they are to be around and that they make practice enjoyable. The duo feel their biggest strength as a tandem is their speed, and while Kinker agreed their speed is the key, he believes their determination is the winning factor.
“What they lack in maybe some strategy on the tennis court, because they haven’t been playing for seven or eight years, they make up for the tenacity to get out there and get the job done — whatever it cost,” he said.
Bell and Thyen will get a look at seniors Ethan Uhls and Mercell Borhi of Bloomington South on Saturday. A win against them would pit them in the doubles championship against either juniors Ethan Sanders and Myles Morgan from Christian Academy of Indiana, or the tandem of junior Donald Trey Fulton and senior Jordan Wilson of Evansville Reitz.
Bell is used to the high pressure, high stakes atmosphere of competing because he was a key cog for the Class 2A baseball state runner-up teams at Southridge in 2018 and 2019, and Thyen was on the postseason roster in the latter year. Bell knows there’s no huge amount of pressure when they get down because they can keep grinding get out of it — no matter what team he’s a part of at Southridge.
"No matter if we lose or win, we know no loss can hurt worse than the baseball ones," Thyen said.
"Big facts," Bell added.
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