MUNSTER | The message didn’t come in a bottle. It came with a racket.
And it was really loud.
“There was no way I was losing my last match (at Munster), so I wanted to send a little message,” Munster senior Aaron Handler said. “We have that sign that says, ‘The best team in the Region.’ We wanted to keep that.”
There’s no doubt Times No. 1 Munster has the best boys tennis program in the area. After Wednesday’s 5-0 statement victory over a solid No. 3 Crown Point team, it became another piece of hardware for the Munster display case.
It was the 'Stangs eighth straight regional title and a state-record 30th overall. Munster advances to Saturday’s Culver Academies Semistate to likely take on top-ranked Carmel.
Handler and freshman teammate Arlo Detmer took care of business at No. 2 doubles with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over C.P.’s Chris Dietrich and Brenden Ray. They avenged a three-set loss to the same tandem the Monday before sectionals. It was also the first loss of the season for Dietrich, C.P.’s valedictorian.
Handler was so fired up, he wouldn’t let an injured Detmer take a day off. Detmer fell on his face during warm-ups, and had bandages on both the top and bottom of his lip by the end of the evening. So much for tennis not being a physical sport.
“A freshman tripping over himself; I can’t make that up,” Handler said. “I told him there’s no way you’re not playing in my last match at home.”
Munster (18-2) got the usual momentum it needed from Jack Heiniger at No. 1 singles with a 6-0, 6-0 victory to get the train rolling. After that, Nathan Kondamuri won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2 singles over Patrick Mudd.
In the previous meeting Kondamuri beat Mudd 7-6 (6-3), 6-3.
“Putting in perspective what we’ve done here really makes you proud of the kids,” Munster coach Steve Lopez said. “Every one of them is the spoke in the wheel or the cog in the machine, but each of them brings something unique to the team. This is a real, real great group. They just wanted this so darn bad.
“They played extremely fired up today.”
Munster’s No. 1 doubles team of Michael Kitchell and Kelan Harish had an intense 6-4, 6-1 victory over C.P.’s Carson Hoogewerf and Dominic Peretin with a big crowd watching every move.
Munster has five seniors in its top seven, while Crown Point (19-4) has five starters returning next season.
“You’d be a fool not to look at what you have coming back, so we’re pretty excited,” C.P. coach Chris Korzeniewski said. “You hear the cliché that, ‘Your season starts tomorrow,’ but it really does.”