ANDERSON — Frankton boys tennis coach Brett Sanders knows exactly how baseball managers like Dusty Baker and Clint Hurdle feel this week.
While the Reds and Pirates waged battle in one of this week’s three Major League Baseball one-game playoffs Tuesday, Sanders and his Eagles were preparing for a winner-take-all contest of their own.
The Anderson Sectional opens today with matches at two sites at 4:30 p.m.
The Indians face Elwood on the courts at Highland while Frankton battles Pendleton Heights in a match dripping with juicy storylines at Alexandria.
Alexandria and Lapel await the winners at Highland and Alexandria, respectively, for Thursday’s semifinals, and the championship match is slated for 4:30 p.m. at Highland on Friday.
Many eyes will gravitate toward the showdown between the Eagles and Arabians today. They are the prohibitive favorites in this field, and they’ve split a pair of matches already this season.
Frankton won 4-1 in the season opener, and Pendleton Heights answered with a 4-1 victory to win the Madison County championship. Add in the facts the Eagles (16-1) are fresh off their first Central Indiana Conference championship and that the loss to the Arabians is the lone blemish on their season, and it’s hard to imagine how this match could be more hyped.
“The only way it could be bigger would be for it to be the final and not the first round,” Sanders said with a laugh.
The former Highland star has worked hard to get the Frankton program to this point. In four seasons under Sanders’ tutelage, the Eagles have steadily risen from 5-13 to this year’s heights.
It’s a similar path to that of the Arabians under Royce Hammel. Pendleton Heights’ ascension peaked with the program’s first sectional crown last season, and Sanders doesn’t expect the Arabians to surrender it easily.