C’mon, let’s go to semistate battle

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Jasper’s Luke Hochegsang, right, received congratulations from teammate Bryce Siegel after the Wildcat boys tennis team blasted Washington 5-0 to claim the regional title Wednesday at the Ed Yarbrough Tennis Complex in Jasper. Next up for the ninth-ranked Wildcats is a single-match semistate clash against No. 12 Jeffersonville, set for 10 a.m. Saturday on the Wildcats’ home courts. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor

JASPER — Luke Hochgesang applied the exclamation point. It’s kind of become his thing.

After rocking one final overhead smash to close out his No. 1 doubles win in Wednesday’s boys tennis regional championship, Hochgesang unleashed his signature call.

“C’mon!”

The roar ripped through the Ed Yarbrough Tennis Complex.

Sometimes it’s “Let’s go!” and on bigger occasions it’s a hybrid of “C’mon! Let’s go!” that Hochgesang shouts for all to hear after he wins a point. The celebratory howls have become somewhat of a soundtrack to another tournament march by the ninth-ranked Wildcats, who plowed through Washington 5-0 to win their 19th regional crown and reach Saturday’s single-match semistate showdown against No. 12 Jeffersonville.

Hochgesang doesn’t lack for passion, and he joked that he averages in the neighborhood of 100 “C’mons!” per match. The figure isn’t quite that high, but sometimes it doesn’t seem far off from a guy who admitted earlier this season that “I’m kind of an attention-seeker.”

“I feel like it just keeps me in the match and just gives me something to laugh about. And my teammates to laugh about, too,” Hochgesang said.

Confirmed.

“He pulls a couple face-mask ”˜C’mons’ sometimes,” said No. 1 doubles teammate Joe Kemker, mimicking the up-and-down hand pump that accompanies some of Hochgesang’s shouts, similar to a football referee signaling a face-mask penalty.

Hochgesang’s always running on a full reservoir of energy, and he doesn’t even need to be on court to display it.

When the Wildcats (17-3) played in the state finals the last two years and Hochgesang was along for the ride as a JV player, he cheered so fervently that it irritated an opposing team’s doubles player — to the point he and Hochgesang got into a mini-war from across the fence and a tournament official advised Hochgesang to tamp down his volume.

Now that Hochgesang burrowed into the varsity lineup for the first time in his last year of tennis, all that vigor has been funneled into the last couple months.

“Hochy’s one of those guys, he wants to squeeze every ounce of the season he can,” Jasper coach Scott Yarbrough said. “And I think his emotion shows in that, because he has waited his turn.”

Hochgesang has played behind guys like Eli Seng, Grant Weaver and Logan Mathies, the Cats’ singles triumvirate with nine years’ worth of varsity experience. Wednesday, they all executed 6-0, 6-0 shutouts against the Hatchets (21-4) while Ben Seng and Alex Allen eased to the No. 2 doubles point with a 6-2, 6-0 verdict.

Hochgesang and Kemker required a little more time to settle their match, but not much.

Washington’s Corey Thompson and Tyler Stoll lingered within 5-4 in the first set before Kemker and Hochgesang accelerated to a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

Hochgesang’s hollers seem somewhat amplified next to Kemker, a sophomore who rarely makes a peep during matches. But Yarbrough said Kemker has begun displaying peeks of intense moments as well, as his partner’s effects are rubbing off.

“I feel like I haven’t been emotional enough in my matches. I should probably vocal up a little bit more,” Kemker said, before Hochgesang explained what intensity can do for the Cats come Saturday morning.

“I think it’s going to be important against (Jeffersonville), just to come out and go crazy, because semistate morning, it’s almost an emotional battle just as much as a tennis match,” he said.

Yarbrough has reminded his No. 1 doubles tandem of one key concept: that he’d rather win the tennis match than win the cheering competition.

The Wildcat coach anticipates both will be entertaining at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Jasper tangled with Jeffersonville (19-1) on Labor Day weekend and won 4-1 to hand the Red Devils their only loss. Both teams have altered their lineups from that initial meeting, but Yarbrough figures if his team’s showing Saturday is similar to what it’s been recently, the prospect of cementing the program’s third straight trip to the state finals appears promising.

“It’ll be interesting. It’s a match where (Jeffersonville’s coach) probably feels he may be a little stronger in doubles, I think we feel we’re a little stronger in singles. That’s almost a little reverse of what we’ve done in the past. We’ve always kind of relied on our doubles and tried to sneak out a singles (win), and this year that’s going to be a little bit different,” Yarbrough said. “But I’ve been real happy with the doubles. I think at times they get overlooked, because our singles is doing so much damage. But they really do a nice job. It’ll be a good match.

“I like to think we’re playing really well right now. Obviously, come Saturday morning we’ll be able to tell, but so far up to now (in the tournament) I’ve been really pleased.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.




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