MARION — The Lapel Bulldogs came into Tuesday’s regional match with the Marion Giants celebrating their first-ever tennis sectional title.
The Giants, however, were coming in after sectional title No. 26. It was long odds for the Bulldogs, but they did not back down.
Marion advanced 4-1 after a hard-fought No. 1 doubles match went to Lapel in three sets. “They gave it their best, we just got beat by the better team,” Lapel coach Justin Coomer said. “They (Marion) are traditionally very strong but I thought we battled at every point.”
The teams just played each other eight days ago with Marion sweeping its way to a 5-0 win. The Giants did not overlook the Bulldogs but it was not a walkover either.
In singles play, the Giants swept all three matches with top-seed Tejas Srikanth defeating Lapel’s Garrett Fensler 6-3, 6-1. At No. 2 singles Vinai Oddiraju defeated Josh Erwin 6-0, 6-1 and at No. 3 Korbett O’Bannion defeated Sam Parkison 6-3, 6-1.
In doubles action, Lapel fought hard and came out with a split. The No. 2 team of Daulton Fensler and Caleb Hanes fell to Marion’s Alex Lyons and Andrew Spitzer 6-1 and 7-5.
The No. 1 doubles tandem of Daniel Conrad and Chase Kimmerling gave Marion’s Amogh Sehgal and Nick Spitzer all they could handle. In a nearly two-hour match, Conrad and Kimmerling came out with a tough 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win. The match featured several long points and some nice shots by both teams.
Lapel finished the year 16-6 and will lose Erwin to graduation. But of the remaining six players, five are sophomores. “We had a real good season,” Coomer said. “We are looking forward to the next few seasons. This was a little bigger stage than what we were used to but we’ll learn from it and it will help us down the road.”