Wildcats seek first state trophy since '99

Photo by Hunter Tickel/The Herald
Jasper senior Noah Hanneman celebrates a point in the tie-breaking set in Saturday's 5-0 semi-state victory over Castle. It was the team's third semi-state championship in five years.

By HUNTER TICKEL
htickel@dcherald.com

JASPER — Fresh off a 5-0 defeat of Castle on Saturday, Jasper boys tennis needs three more victories to do something it hasn't accomplished since 1999 — capture a state title.

That was the school's lone state boys tennis trophy.

The No. 12 Wildcats (19-2) are scheduled for a Noon match on Friday at Center Grove against Westview.

This is Jasper's third trip to this round in its past five postseasons.

Jasper was in the Final Eight last year, finishing with a semifinal exit. Jasper took second place in the state in 2017.

"We kind of set a goal that we want to get to semi-state to have a chance to go to the state finals," coach Scott Yarbrough said. "Now, that doesn't happen every year, but there's got to be goals to set and reach. This is always a big day for us. It's a day that we've normally played good tennis, and we followed suit (Saturday)."

Advancement to the next round and beyond could be decided by the No. 1 doubles tandem of senior Noah Hanneman and sophomore Trey Gutgsell.

Hanneman and Gutgsell have contrasting demeanors and playing styles, which is what makes them lethal.

"We got a little oil and water mixture there," Yarbrough said. "You've got two different personalities. Trey is pretty even-keel. He doesn't show a whole lot of emotion. Hanneman, you know exactly what he is thinking. You know when he is happy, you know when he's upset, you know when he's disappointed."

Hanneman is the vocal leader, who has been seen picking up his teammate between points, throughout the year.

"He's a very important part of the (team)," Gutgsell said. "I feel like it's a team thing to get this done. I'm really proud of him."

Hanneman's power on serves often produces multiple aces in a match, which will be a huge factor.

The duo has found success double-teaming the net simultaneously this season.

Gutgsell possesses the height to occupy the front line full-time, while Hanneman has the footwork to patrol the back and make up ground.

On multiple occasions in the playoffs, this No. 1 doubles squad has logged the longest match for Jasper. They dropped the only set against Castle in the middle set, before closing out the final set 6-2.

In one instance of a lengthy back-and-forth, Castle earned its first game in the third set after it was tied at deuce six times.

"It's funny because they have been together for 14 matches, half have gone three sets," Yarbrough said. "Doubles, more than singles, is a momentum thing. We seem to be getting out of the gate really well, and not hold that momentum well going into the second set. We managed to find the momentum in the third set. If that's the recipe, then that's fine, so long as we continue to follow it."

A repeat lineup from the semi-state championship is senior No. 1 singles Max Sternberg, senior No. 2 singles Justin Shultz and junior No. 3 singles Reece Lampert.

None of these three dropped a set against the Knights.

The No. 2 doubles team on Saturday was freshman Caleb Schnarr and junior Noah Schue, who won the first set against the Knights, before winning the second set on a forfeit, due to injury.




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