Ranger seniors keep promises, make state finalsOctober 15, 2012
From Herald Staff Reports
BEDFORD — Trent Weyer and Sam Beckman both kept their promises. As a reward, they’re both headed somewhere a Forest Park tennis player has ever ventured.
Weyer and Beckman won two matches in Saturday’s individual doubles regional, first rallying in a three-setter then stomping through a straight-set triumph to reach this weekend’s individual state finals in Indianapolis. As far as Ranger coach Dean Blessinger knows, Weyer and Beckman are the first Ranger players — in singles or doubles — to advance to state. For one of them, getting there was a painful prospect.
And for both seniors, the day wasn’t easy.
A few days before the match, Weyer sprained his ankle while playing basketball in his driveway at home. It was no minor twist or tweak. Blessinger said it was “a mess,” and Weyer sported the swelling and black-and-blue hues to prove it.
Initially, Blessinger considered looking into the possibility of having a different player substitute in Weyer’s place. The plan didn’t fly.
“He goes, ‘No, no, no, no, no, you can’t do that to me. I don’t care what the pain is, I will play and I will play without it affecting me,’” Blessinger said.
“He was a warrior. He did what he promised he was going to do. He said, ‘This is too important. I will suck it up and take any pain I have to, to try to seize this opportunity.’ And they got it done. It was a big deal for them.”
Weyer’s ankle was engulfed in so much tape and a brace that he had little mobility to start Saturday’s first match. The more pressing challenge became trying to figure out Evansville Mater Dei’s opposite pair. The Wildcats paired Joe Ritter, a tall guy with a power game, with Mike Elpers, a shorter, finesse player. Ritter and Elpers (15-4) came from behind to swipe a first-set tiebreaker, then surged forward 4-3 in the second set.
Around that time, Blessinger stepped away for a few moments to watch the other semifinal match being played. He reported back to Beckman and Weyer with his findings, telling them if they found a way to come back, they were likely better than the team they’d meet in the final.
“That motivated the guys a little bit, and they started to play smarter tennis,” Blessinger said. “They kept their depth, they kept their angles, and they got into (Mater Dei’s) backhands with their serves, and the match turned dramatically. The guys didn’t hang their heads.”
Weyer and Beckman (12-1) pocketed the final three games of the second set, but still weren’t able to cement the win without another plot twist. Seeing that Beckman’s sizzling serve wasn’t ruffling Mater Dei, the Ranger duo convinced Blessinger to change the serving order to open the third set, since they sensed Weyer’s off-speed spins were more effective. Blessinger allowed it. And Weyer’s serve was broken twice to start the third set.
But Weyer and Beckman also broke Mater Dei’s serve on successive tries, and after closing their 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4 victory, they overpowered Scottsburg sophomores Braxton Soloe and Tyler White (20-6) in a 6-0, 6-3 runaway. The Rangers swiped the match’s first nine games, and when Scottsburg inched to within 4-3 in the second set, Blessinger challenged Beckman to clean up his game — especially considering his partner was playing on a mangled ankle.
That’s when Beckman delivered on his promise.
“He looks at me and he goes, ‘No problem coach, just gives me two minutes,’” Blessinger said. “He goes back out, bangs a great service game out, then we break them and it’s over.”
Now it’s on to Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis, where Beckman and Weyer will play Friday in the quarterfinal round against an opponent that will be determined after the draw early this week. There are seven teams left in the tournament, and Dubois County boasts two representatives as Jasper seniors Will Seger and Noah Moss (25-2) will also compete.
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