By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — There weren't a lot of secrets to be discovered by the Pendleton Heights and Frankton tennis teams as they met here Wednesday in a first-round sectional matchup.
The teams had played twice previously with each coming away with a 4-1 victory. The only one of those matches with a title on the line was the Arabians' win in the championship of the Madison County Tournament.
No title was on the line Wednesday, but it didn't keep the Arabians from defeating the Eagles 3-2. Pendleton Heights will return to Alexandria today to face the Lapel Bulldogs in the semifinals.
The first match completed was at No. 3 singles where Frankton's Conner Bates topped PH's Evan Crooks 6-4, 6-1. Pendleton evened the score at No. 1 doubles as Mitch Staley teamed with Sam McKinney to defeat Blaine Reed and Cameron Bates 6-4, 6-4.
The next two matches were over at almost the same time. At No. 1 doubles, the duo of J.D. Thompson and Noah Fawcett turned back a strong comeback attempt from Frankton's Jeff Biddle and Brady Ashton, 6-4, 6-4.
Then at No. 1 singles, PH's Ben Augsburger topped Lucas Bolt 6-4, 6-3. The win belonged to the Arabians.
"The third time to play someone is always the hardest," said Augsburger, who is friends with Bolt off the court. "We know each other well. We get along well. I think it helps to play someone you are friends with because you're not dirty to them on the court."
The final match to be completed was the lone three-setter at No. 2 singles where Aaron Korn battled his way to a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 victory over PH's Zach Howe.
"I was confident going in," said Arabians coach Royce Hammel. "Our doubles teams are playing well and I like Ben's record against the other area teams. I thought it would go 3-2 either way."
For the Eagles, they are finished as a team and individually. Only the No. 1 singles player and the No. 1 doubles team can move on and then only if they are unbeaten in the sectional.
"I can't lie, I'm disappointed," said Frankton coach Brett Sanders. "After having the kind of season we've had and then losing a winable match, that's difficult. It's hard to lose in the first round when we've had such a great season."
The Eagles lost only two matches all season, both to the Arabians.
"I am so proud of the guys and the way they battled,": said Sanders. "I am grateful to have been a part of it." Three of the seven starters on the team will graduate, Bolt, Korn and Biddle.
The championship match will be played Friday at Highland Middle School at 4:30 p.m.