PORTAGE | Tuesday's boys tennis semifinals at the Portage Regional was somewhat of a dry run for both Valparaiso and LaPorte.
Each team won its semifinal matches 5-0, setting up today's third straight meeting for the championship. The Vikings (15-1) and Slicers (16-4) will meet in the title match for the ninth time in the last 15 years, and Valpo leads in that span 5-3.
"I just wanted to work on some things (Tuesday), take my time and not rush things," said Valparaiso No. 1 singles player Marc Shideler, who won 6-0, 6-0 over Hobart's Brandon Green. "I want to be ready for (today)."
Ben Kalisch followed suit with teammate Shideler in a 6-0, 6-0 No. 2 singles win over Zach Meacham. Marty Pochop (No. 3 singles) and the team of Quinn Donnell Donnell and Joshua Bartusch (No. 1 doubles) each dropped just four games in their straight-set victories. Tyler Costas and Adam Crookston were taken to a third set but finished strong for a 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 win.
"I thought we got out to great start," said Valparaiso coach Tim Shideler, whose Vikings are the two-time defending champions. "We played pretty well."
The Slicers (16-4) dropped just four total games in their win over River Forest. Kyle Curry (No. 2 singles) plus the team of Michael Curtis and Bryce Goetz (No. 1 doubles) each won their matches 6-0, 6-0. Throw in a forfeit at No. 3 singles, and LaPorte was able to cruise into the title match.
"We didn't want to give away any points," LaPorte coach Bill Reed said. "The longer a team stays in a match, the better they play."
Reed is hoping to reverse a 4-1 regular-season loss, following last year's trend. The Slicers won 3-2 in the regular season but lost by the same score in the championship.
"If we play the way we should, we've got a chance to win," Reed said. "Valpo is very strong 1-2-3 in singles, but that's why you play the match. Everyone has a bad day."
Coach Shideler hopes his team gained momentum with the regular-season victory.
"You have to think you can do it; we did it before," he said. "LaPorte's a great team, and we (also) know they will come out confident."