Wildcats stave off Highlanders, move to 10-0September 1, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
Editor's Note: Due to time constraints and a lack of space, this story is online only.
JASPER - Jasper had to earn it Wednesday night on its home court, but in the end, the Wildcats (10-0) held off Floyd Central, 3-2, to remain undefeated.
Wildcats coach Scott Yarbrough credited his top two singles players - seniors Max Sternberg and Justin Shultz - for leading the way for Jasper against the Highlanders. Shultz enjoyed a 6-0, 6-1 win over Highlanders junior Braden Poe in the No. 2 singles match. However, Floyd Central senior Isaac Anderton tested Sternberg at times at No. 1 singles but in the end, Sternberg found a way to claim a 6-3,
6-3 against Anderton.
"Max last night had a long match, and I think some of that was his legs," Yarbrough said. "He played a three-hour match last night, but he did a hell of a job winning that match. And Isaac's a real nice player. He's a lefty, he brings something - a little different style, but I was really glad with the way he bounced back."
The Wildcats searched for that decisive third point, but it did not come easy. Sophomore Trey Gutgsell had some leads on Floyd Central freshman Riley Doddridge in both No. 3 singles sets, but he could not hang on. Doddridge won the first set by a tiebreaker, then 6-3 in the second set to deny Jasper the singles sweep.
Yarbrough thinks Gutgsell will be fine, but he needs more singles matches with not a lot of them under his belt.
Floyd Central seniors Colin Jacobi and Landon Hodges claimed the No. 1 doubles win on Jasper junior Reece Lampert and senior Noah Hanneman. Therefore, it would all come down to No. 2 doubles.
In a match that lasted more than two hours, a tiebreaker would decide this one, but freshman Caleb Schnarr and junior Noah Schue of the Wildcats rallied in the tiebreaker past junior Jeremy Mueller and sophomore Ben Lammert of the Highlanders to give Jasper the win.
"We just did a nice job of closing down the net and putting balls away," Yarbrough said of the No. 2 doubles. "I felt like we were just a little more consistent than they were - a few less unforced errors and got more serves in at the right time."
Jasper has been tinkering with the lineup throughout the season. Lampert began the season in the No. 2 singles, while Shultz, who has been nursing an injury throughout the year, began as the No. 3 singles. However, with Lampert going to No. 1 doubles, Shultz took the No. 2 singles spot.
Gutgsell, who played doubles earlier in the year, is starting to get more singles experience.
Yarbrough noted that there are different lineups the Wildcats could use, and explained some of the changes that they've been rolling with in recent matches.
"(Lampert and Hanneman) make a good doubles team," he said. "There's some things we need to work on with them - closing the net, putting some balls away. And they bring us a little more energy at one doubles, which I like. So, that was the reason.
"And when we take Reece out of singles, Justin is now the two singles in that spot," Yarbrough continued. "He's strong enough to play that role. So, it was more of just a shift than anything else."
With the holiday weekend approaching, that means some teams will be getting some time off, and Jasper tennis will be no different. The Wildcats will collect themselves before they're scheduled to be back at it Sept. 9 at Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Evansville Memorial.
"We're going to practice hard tomorrow, practice on Friday," he said. "They get Saturday, Sunday, Monday off. And we'll come back on Tuesday, get after it and get ready for next week."
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