Second suffices for runner-up CatsOctober 22, 2012
From Herald Staff Reports
INDIANAPOLIS — No one wearing a Jasper tennis shirt found much to scrutinize.
The score wasn’t close, nor did it favor Will Seger and Noah Moss. But even within a 6-0, 6-1 defeat to Carmel’s Daniel Rodefeld and Charlie Emhardt in Saturday afternoon’s individual doubles state championship match at Indianapolis Park Tudor High School, the Jasper seniors were in agreement that the last match of their prep careers yielded a pleasant aftertaste. That applied both to the big picture of their first-year partnership at No. 1 doubles, plus their showing in Saturday’s championship against a team that was simply untouchable.
“Me and Will definitely did not play bad. We actually played pretty good,” Moss said. “(Carmel was) just so good, that no matter how good of a shot we would hit or how much of an angle, they would just hit a winner right past us every single time. I felt helpless on the court at a point in the match. They were just so good.”
Moss and Seger (27-3) entered the final with momentum behind them, after executing what coach Scott Yarbrough called the best set they’d played all year in the semifinals. The Wildcat pair ousted Culver Academy’s Alec Proeh and Austin Proeh 6-0, 7-6 (7-1), sizzling through the first set before weathering a topsy-turvy finish in which they held two match points at 5-4, then had to save a set point at 6-5 down before breezing through the tiebreak.
Moss and Seger had played Carmel earlier this season, when Rodefeld played with a different partner. The Greyhounds took that match 6-3, 6-2. In Seger’s estimation, he and Moss played better Saturday than in the first clash with Carmel and still weren’t able to get on the board until it was 4-0 in the second set.
“Their team played that much better. They just didn’t miss,” Seger said. “They weren’t there to mess around and neither were we, but they got out to a big lead, and they wouldn’t miss and they were just putting balls away.
“Coach used the saying ‘We didn’t lose, we just got beat,’ which made complete sense. Me and Noah played our hearts out, and it just seemed like everything was against us, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
Emhardt and Rodefeld (31-2) guided Carmel to the team state title a week earlier, when they surrendered just four total games in three wins — including a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of Center Grove, a top-10 team. Of Carmel’s pair, Yarbrough said “it’s as good of a doubles match as I’ve seen a team play” at the state finals.
Yarbrough saved some superlatives for his own guys, too.
Even though Seger devotes only a few months of the year to tennis while he focuses on golf, Yarbrough said he molded himself into a tennis standout by listening and executing exactly what Jasper doubles players are programmed to do: Serve-and-volley, smother the net mercilessly. And Moss, a single-sport athlete who’s faithful to tennis year-round, completed a natural transition from singles to doubles this season. He possessed the fire to match Seger, as on one point in the Culver match at 4-all in the second set, he literally climbed the fence to retrieve a shot to help the Cats eventually win the point.
“As far as a (doubles) team, these guys by the end of the season were as good as anybody else we’ve put out there,” Yarbrough said. “They really, really fed off of each other. Being in the same class, growing up together, being buddies, I think it all helped. When it comes to doubles, that kind of thing really paid off.
“I’m not surprised that we were playing for a state championship, but at the beginning of the season I don’t know that I would have touted them to do that. That tells you how much (they improved).”
Just as important was that Moss and Seger enjoyed being together.
It’s an oft-overlooked dynamic to successful doubles, Yarbrough said — pointing out that in the semifinals, Culver’s team of twin brothers bickered throughout the entire match. The Wildcat coach said he never witnessed a hint of that in the two months Moss and Seger partnered.
“I thought at the start of the year when I was playing with Noah, we had the chemistry, and that’s one of the main parts,” Seger said. “As the year went on, we progressed as a team and mixed really well together.”
That launched them to the highest individual finish ever for a Wildcat doubles team, matching the runner-up finish in 2006 by Nick Seger (Will’s cousin) and Pete Wilson. First place was one win away and would have been nice, Yarbrough said, but he added there was plenty of pride to derive from being second out of about 325 doubles teams in the state.
“That’s definitely going to be a nice thing to say, be like, my senior year, I was the second-best doubles team in the state,” Moss said. “It sounds better to say you were the best doubles team, but I’ll definitely take second.”
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