By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The 47th annual Indiana State Boys High School Tennis Tournament got under way Wednesday afternoon as Anderson hosted Elwood at Highland Middle School. Anderson survived a scare from Elwood to advance to the semifinals 3-2.
“(It was) closer than what I anticipated,” Anderson coach David Ellis said after the match.
The teams had met twice earlier in the season, once in the county tourney and again a few days later. Anderson won the first match 4-1 and the second 5-0, but Elwood came to play the spoiler in the sectional.
“We played really well,” Elwood coach Max Hoppel said. “That’s as well as we’ve played all year.”
The Panthers saved their best for last and came within a point of advancing as a team.
In the No. 1 singles match, hard-hitting Anderson sophomore Joe Moran dominated Elwood’s Austin Poor 6-0, 6-3. Moran won the first set 6-0 and led 4-1 in the second before Poor cut it to 5-3. Anderson’s other singles victory came from junior Dax Swanson, who outlasted Derek Sims 6-1, 6-2 in the longest match of the afternoon.
“That was a typical 3 singles match,” Ellis said. “Long, grinding points and back and forth. It was good to see him (Swanson) stay focused and do the things he needed to get the win.”
The Panthers’ Derek Wiand defeated Nick Whitaker 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 singles for Elwood’s first point of the day.
In doubles play, Anderson’s No. 2 team of Eli Miller and Connor Hall picked up a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Elwood’s pair of Gabe Starcher and Aaron Haas. In the battle of No. 1 seeds, Elwood came out with a 3-6, 6-0 and 6-2 win as Dakin Updegraff and Jordan Arehart overcame a first set loss to defeat Zach Abbott and Jason Kabir.
The match was tied at 2-2 for a very short time before Swanson sealed the win for Anderson. As Swanson wrapped up the win, Ellis let out a relieved exhale.
“I told the guys this is what to expect today,” Ellis said. “They (Elwood) have nothing to lose, we were 2-0 against them, and we have everything to lose.”
Ellis was pleased with the way Moran, Swanson and the No. 2 doubles team of Miller and Hall played but knows everyone must bring an even better effort for today’s match with Alexandria.
“They beat us 3-2 in the season,” Ellis said of an earlier match with the Tigers.
However, Ellis feels the Indians are playing their best tennis when it counts.
“We’re doing well," he said. "We finished strong, we got most of our wins toward the last third of our season. The guys are pulling it together and peaking at the right time.”
For Elwood, the No. 1 doubles team will advance in the tournament while Hoppel joked that with the scores 4-1, 5-0 and 3-2, maybe one more shot against Anderson would do the trick.
“We finished 6-12, three of those losses were right here,” Hoppel said. “Maybe if we get them one more time. But they have a little too much 'pop' for us.”
Anderson will play Alexandria today at 4:30 p.m. at Highland for the right to advance to the championship, which is scheduled for Friday at 4:30 p.m.