By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Last year at the Floyd Central Regional final, the Jeffersonville boys’ tennis team’s season came to an end as it lost 3-2 to the host Highlanders.
At 5 p.m. today in this season’s Floyd Central Regional title match, the 12th-ranked Red Devils will get their opportunity to redeem themselves as they will play the rival Highlanders.
Jeff defeated Silver Creek in the regional semifinals on Tuesday, 5-0. The Highlanders downed archrival New Albany in the other semi, 4-1.
Jeff (18-1) defeated Floyd Central (10-10) twice this season. The Red Devils won the regular-season meeting (4-1) and their matchup in the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament (5-0). Jeffersonville’s last regional title came in 2010.
“Jeff is the clear favorite. They’re a top-15 team,” Floyd Central coach Rick Miller said about today’s championship match. “If they come out tomorrow and they play as well as they can, it will be tough for us. We’ve got to play A tennis tomorrow. We’ve got to play as well as we can, have fun and enjoy it.”
Red Devils’ coach Mark Reilly says his players do not revenge on their minds. He says his troops are focused on playing solid tennis today against one of the most tradition-rich programs in Indiana.
“I think they’re thinking that it’s Floyd Central and you have to give them a lot of respect,” Reilly said. “[The Red Devils] know that if they don’t go out and play well, we’re going to lose this match. [His players] are not looking past Floyd or anything. They know that Floyd Central has got the tradition, and Rick always does a good job preparing them for the regional.”
Today’s winner will play either No. 9 Jasper or Washington at the Jasper Semistate at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Reilly praised the play of his No. 2 doubles tandem of Justin Padgett and Kooper Falkenstein in the regional semis. The pair scored Jeff’s first point on Tuesday, as they defeated Silver Creek’s Gabe Bauer and Isaac Corum, 6-3, 6-1.
“Basically, our two doubles played their one doubles. Our guys took charge. They weren’t intimidated that they were playing their one doubles team,” Reilly said. “I think that goes back to our schedule, where we play a lot of teams in the top 25.”
Two of the five matches went three sets. At No. 1 singles, Jeff’s Austin Hunt downed Silver Creek senior Brennan Thompson, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. At one doubles, the Red Devils’ Jack Reilly and Sam Coward beat Jake Steele and Nick Sprinkle, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Other winners for Jeff were Brock Winchell at No. 2 singles and Connor Buntin at three singles.
It was the second time the Dragons (13-8) got swept by the Red Devils this year. But Silver Creek coach Robert Briscoe was happy with the way his team performed on Tuesday.
“Overall, this was probably the best match we’ve played all year,” Briscoe said. “I don’t think there is any shame in losing to the No. 12-ranked team in the state. I’m happy with the way every one of our guys played in their matches.”
The Dragons had three seniors in their starting lineup in Thompson, Sprinkle and No. 3 singles player Braden McCartney.
FLOYD CENTRAL-NEW ALBANY
For the second time this season, the Bulldogs (12-3) gave Floyd Central a run for its money, but could not pull out the victory. New Albany lost 3-2 to the Highlanders in the season opener.
On Tuesday, three matches went three sets with Floyd Central winning two of them.
At No. 2 singles, the Highlanders’ Chris Boone rallied from a first-set deficit to defeat Alec Bates, 5-7, 7-6, 7-5. At one doubles, the Floyd Central duo of Jack Stoner and Harrison Davis also came back from a one-set deficit to down the Bulldogs’ Tanner Goller and Jake Kennard, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Freshman Logan Charbonneau recorded New Albany’s lone point, as he defeated senior Ryan Plunkett, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Other Floyd Central victories were Duncan Bishop at three singles and Austin Ivey and Alec Saxon at No. 2 doubles.
“I thought we played well,” Miller said. “I’m hopeful we can get that match out of our system and things work for us better [today] where we’re a little bit more relaxed.”
Tuesday’s setback left New Albany coach Bob Dusch a little frustrated.
“We just weren’t mentally tough enough. We got close and we just didn’t come through the way we should,” Dusch said. “We’re every bit as good as that team, but I guess we’re not because that’s twice they have beaten us.
“I thought we played tentative in the first sets, except for Bates. I’m disappointed. I thought we would compete better than we did. The good news is we only lose one and I’m going to miss him.”
New Albany’s one senior is No. 2 doubles player Zach Daniel.
In an individual singles sectional match on Tuesday, Clarksville’s Adam Bryant lost to South Central’s Parker Gabhart, 6-0, 6-2.
FLOYD CENTRAL REGIONAL
JEFFERSONVILLE 5, SILVER CREEK 0
No. 1 — Austin Hunt d. Brennan Thompson 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 2 — Brock Winchell d. Noah Eckert 6-1, 6-3.
No. 3 — Connor Buntin d. Braden McCartney 6-2, 7-5.
No. 1 — Jack Reilly-Sam Coward d. Jake Steele-Nick Sprinkle 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
No. 2 — Justin Padgett-Kooper Falkenstein d. Gabe Bauer-Isaac Corum 6-3, 6-1.
FLOYD CENTRAL 4, NEW ALBANY 1
No. 1 — Logan Charbonneau (NA) d. Ryan Plunkett 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.
No. 2 — Chris Boone (FC) d. Alec Bates 5-7, 7-6, 7-5.
No. 3 — Duncan Bishop (FC) d. Nathan Johnson 6-4, 6-3.
No. 1 — Jack Stoner-Harrison Davis (FC) d. Tanner Goller-Jake Kennard 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
No. 2 — Austin Ivey-Alec Saxon (FC) d. Zach Daniel-Nick White 6-3, 6-1.