Cats clinch SIAC on senior night

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper senior Noah Hanneman hugs his mom, Jenny, after the Wildcats won 5-0, to clinch the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference championship against Vincennes Lincoln Tuesday on senior night. Hanneman combined with sophomore Trey Gutgsell to win the No. 1 doubles, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5. 

JASPER - There was no raining on this parade Tuesday evening.

The prospect of rain loomed ahead of Jasper's senior night match with rival Vincennes Lincoln, and while some light rain did make its presence, it wasn't enough to go indoors. So the 5-0, outright clinching of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference by the Wildcats (13-0, 9-0) all unfolded outside.

All three seniors were victorious in their respective matches. Max Sternberg came away with a win against fellow senior David Wilson in the No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-1. No. 2 singles Justin Shultz led Vincennes junior Parker Dugan, 3-2, in the second set, then held him off and swept him, 6-1, 6-2. Noah Hanneman had to grind it out with sophomore Trey Gutgsell in the No. 1 doubles, but found a way against Alices seniors Landon Altstadt and Ethan Jones by a score of 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.

With all of them winning their matches, on senior night, against their rival and clinching a conference championship, what more could they possibly ask for?

"There's not much else we can really ask for at this point," Shultz said. "We've had a great season so far, playing to keep it going this weekend (at the Center Grove Classic)."

"It's just nice to get the W on our home court and on senior night," Sternberg said. "And yeah, we're really looking forward to this weekend, too - and we're going to work hard at practice these next few days."

Hanneman was visibly frustrated at times during his No. 1 doubles match, but he told Gutgsell they were not going to lose this match, and the two of them found their way.

"I think after a slow first set with double faults, just personal errors, we just had to clean it up in the second and third set, focus on what we practice - and just took it from there," Hanneman said.

"They're still growing as a team," Wildcats coach Scott Yarbrough said. "You would like to get doubles teams together earlier in the year, and that didn't happen with this group. So, from that standpoint, part of the blame goes on me for not getting them together maybe a little sooner. I think we're starting to understand a little bit better. I would love to see them be a little bit more aggressive at the net and putting balls away, but I think tonight the difference was we just put a few more balls in play than the other team did."

Yarbrough hailed the three seniors in front of their teammates and families after it was over. He will use the three of them as examples in the program going forward, and couldn't be more proud of what they've done and how they've represented the program.

"The thing that's irreplaceable more than anything else is the time that we spend together," he said. "And even though for a lot of people, they think it's just those two months during the season, those three guys have been big helps in our summer tennis camp. They've put a lot of hours in - the lunches, the going out to eats, the traveling in the summer, playing tournaments, traveling as a team, being part of the family - all those things are the things that I'll remember."

In the other matches on the night, junior Noah Schue and freshman Caleb Schnarr prevailed in the No. 2 doubles with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over sophomores Cayden and Gus McCrary of the Alices. That was the one that put the Wildcats over the top for the third point and the victory.

Sophomore Sean Nord played the No. 3 singles in place of junior Reece Lampert, who was nursing some shoulder injuries. He went three sets with Vincennes senior Calvin Carmean, but Nord found his way, splitting the first two sets in tiebreakers before winning the super tiebreaker in the third set, 10-8.

"If something would happen where we need to give Reece a break, Sean slides in at the three-singles spot," Yarbrough said. "He's that next guy in the lineup, but it's Reece's three-singles spot."

Jasper's regular season is set to end Friday and Saturday, while the sectional is scheduled for Sept. 29 and the championship Sept. 30 at Jasper.

"The best part about it is the competition," Yarbrough said of Center Grove. "I hope we just go up and compete well and stay aggressive."

"We don't care so much about the wins as we care about playing good tennis before we get to the postseason - that's what we're ultimately focusing on," Sternberg said. "But we want to go up to the weekend and play good tennis and try to get a few W's."

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