Defeat allows Jasper senior to see sister’s big day

Herald Sports Editor

CARMEL — Brie Kuntz had just won the biggest match of her tennis career. And she couldn’t stop sobbing.

These weren’t happy tears, either.


After Kuntz and No. 2 doubles partner Brooke Lueken completed a comeback three-set win over Columbus North in last Saturday’s semistate, allowing Jasper to seize a 3-2 victory, Kuntz found her father, Greg, buried her head into his shoulder and cried. The state finals were both dream and dread for Kuntz, considering her sister’s wedding is today — which coincides with the second day of the state finals.

That’s why Jasper’s 3-2 loss to Indianapolis Cathedral in Friday’s state semifinals was sweet sorrow for Kuntz. The senior’s tennis career and bid for a state championship is over, but that allows her to be standing by sister Chelsea’s side as a bridesmaid this afternoon.

“Right at the beginning of the season, my mom told me, ‘Do you realize (the wedding is) the same weekend as state?’” Kuntz said. “I was kind of shocked. I told Coach, and we never really talked about it until semistate when we won and we found out we were coming here this weekend. That’s kind of when it really hit me.”

Kuntz gives big sis a break, though, when it came to cementing the date to tie the knot.

“I don’t think she really thought about it when she set it. She’s just thinking of the time she wanted to get married, the weather and such,” Kuntz said. “She didn’t really think I would have state. She didn’t know we had that good of a chance to go on.”

Greg and Jeannie Kuntz didn’t make the trip to Carmel for their daughter’s match Friday, but Brie’s aunt and her grandparents, Larry and Carolyn, were on hand to watch Brie finish her career with a 6-1, 6-3 win.

Even if the Wildcats had advanced to this morning’s semifinals and lost, jetting back to Jasper in time for the 3 o’clock ceremony would have been a stretch. Had the Cats made the championship at 2 p.m., it would have been impossible.

But Kuntz had pondered the possibilities. And she didn’t hesitate as to which side of the aisle she’d have picked.

“If we were playing tomorrow,” Kuntz said, “I would be (at tennis), 100 percent.”

Weathering the chill
Jasper’s first match of the season in early April was 80 degrees. The Wildcats’ last match of the season on Friday — the first day of June — had fans scrambling to unpack sweatshirts, blankets and coats again.

A little bit of payback, the Wildcats figured, for the nasty weather that never showed up this spring until an unexpected invasion at the finals.

“It feels like this weather should be our first match,” Jasper’s Elizabeth Theil said.

The temperature didn’t peek above 60, and spits of rain replaced the forecast for afternoon sunshine. But Mother Nature’s primary nuisance was wind gusts of better than 25 mph that caused a fair share of framed shots and mis-hits for players.

“You have to watch the wind, because on one side (of the court) they’ll fly out and on the other side you can hit as hard as you can,” Theil said. “You definitely have to adjust to that.”

Full support
As usual, Jasper boasted a thick contingent of fans and alumni of the tennis program at Friday’s  finals including John Lehmkuhler, who played on one of the Wildcat boys team’s past state qualifiers.

Four players from the current Wildcat boys squad even made the journey of nearly three hours from home to watch the girls play. Grant Weaver, Eli Seng, Ben Seng and Luke Hochgesang were all there, just as they were a week earlier in the semistate when the entire boys squad was on hand to pull for the girls.

“The boys pick on the girls, the girls pick on the boys, it goes back and forth,” Jasper coach Scott Yarbrough said. “I think the support in both directions is awesome. To see them up here was great, it really was.”


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