Jeeps eliminated, Thewes advancesSeptember 29, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
LOOGOOTEE - Northeast Dubois boys tennis seldom lost in 2021, with some of those losses coming to the same opponent. And on Wednesday, that opponent ended the team's season.
The Jeeps (13-3) came into the Sectional 18 opener thinking they could top defending champion Loogootee. The possibility certainly loomed, as the last matches went to a decisive third set.
However, in a close match in the No. 2 singles, sophomore Leighton Jeffers of the Lions got the better of Jeeps sophomore Aiden Buechler, effectively ending the team's season. Loogootee edged Northeast Dubois, 3-2.
"Aiden Buechler - he fought hard until the end," Jeeps coach Dwayne Knies said. "And he looked like he was going to get over the hump there, and just came up a little short.
"For our team, it's disappointing. We worked our tails off all year, and coming in, we truly believed that we had a good shot of winning this match - and it showed tonight," Knies continued.
Despite falling short, some Jeeps still took care of business. The No. 2 doubles tandem of Brayden Beck and Corbin Hurt weren't always paired together this season, but they came on strong towards the end, and finished their season with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Loogootee senior Rory Tippery and sophomore Drew Walker.
"They serve the ball well," Knies said of Beck and Hurt. "If you serve well and hit a lot of good cross-court shots and come to the net, win points like that, you're going to win a lot of matches in doubles."
The season isn't completely over. Senior Aden Thewes is moving on to next week's individual sectional after a 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-2 win in the No. 1 singles against sophomore Isaac Waggner of the Lions to qualify. Thewes trailed Waggner, 5-6, in the first set tiebreaker, but he found a way to muster three straight points to take the first set.
"I was dealing with cramps, but I knew if not, it could be my last match ever in high school tennis and didn't want that to end," Thewes said, calling advancement in the wake of his team's loss "bittersweet".
"He just gutted it out," said Knies, who spoke to The Herald when the No. 1 singles match was still going on. "He found a way to win that set, and I think the second set, he was still kind of battling some cramps yet. And I think this third set - I think he's finally back in a groove again and it looks like he's playing well again and moving a little bit better."
Thewes is hoping to properly hydrate to stop the cramps, and also get back out on the court before he competes in next week's individual sectional at Jasper, with the date he plays and his opponent to be determined. He's happy to move on as an individual, but he would've loved a team win even more. Thewes was one of the only returners on a Jeeps squad that graduated a lot in 2021.
"We had an outstanding season," Knies said. "We went 13-2 during the regular season, played in some tourneys - won the Evansville North Tourney, we finished fourth at the Jasper Invitational. For us, coming into the season, we lost four varsity players from last year. So, we had a lot of new guys playing varsity for the first time...who's ever ready to play, they step in there and we have to get the job done."
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