CARMEL | Bloomington South got off to a fast start, and Valparaiso was never able to quite catch up.
In an early 2-0 hole, the Vikings rallied to make a match of it before falling 3-2 in Friday afternoon's quarterfinals of the 46th annual IHSAA team tennis championship.
The Panthers jumped out in front when Ronnie Schneider defeated Ben Kalisch 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
“Schneider is the top-rated player in the state,” Valpo coach Tim Shideler said. “Ben gave it everything he had, and he played well, but he wasn’t able to keep up.”
The score became 2-0 when the No. 1 doubles team of Peter Williams and Jared Folke fell 6-0, 6-0.
“Once you fall behind early like we did, it is extremely hard to gain any momentum,” Shideler said. “That puts a lot of pressure on the other guys to be able to play. They know that the smallest mistake can be the deciding factor.”
The Vikings were able to get wins at No. 2 singles from Marty Pochop (6-2, 6-2) and No. 3 singles from Eric Cender (6-7, 6-1, 6-1).
Bloomington South got the winning point with a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 2 doubles.
While not happy with the final score, Shideler was pleased with the Vikings’ effort.
“Our guys left everything out on the courts,” Shideler said. “We put out a great effort (Friday), and we played really well. We just happened to run into a team that had a lot of things going their way.”
The Vikings finished their season at 18-3.
Graduation will take four starters off of the varsity roster, but Shideler is optimistic about next season.
“Our (junior varsity) team only lost one match all season,” he said. “We have a lot of good players on JV who would have been on varsity on other teams, so we are optimistic about the future of Vikings tennis.”