Contrary to popular belief, Munster coach Bill Heuer is not a chemistry teacher at the school.
It just seems that way.
“This year’s team has a lot of depth and a lot of talent,” Heuer said. “We wanted to play everyone everywhere until we hit on the right chemistry.”
The Mustangs hit on the right mix at No. 1 doubles during the last week of April. That was when Paige Heuer and Sam Sakevicius played together for the first time.
“It was my first doubles match with a different partner in almost two years,” Paige Heuer said. “I was a little confused as to why we were switching. But Sam and I beat Fairfield in our first match.”
That afternoon, the tandem beat a tough Culver team, and a new duo was set.
“I was pumped to move up to No. 1 doubles,” Sakevicius said. “I felt like all of my hard work paid off. It was a privilege.”
The duo has gone 9-2 since the Fairfield match, while the new No. 2 doubles team has gone 10-0.
Communication between the tandem continues to improve with every match. So does the anticipation of knowing where each other will be when setting up for returns.
“We didn’t move anyone because they weren’t doing well,” Coach Heuer explained. “All season, we were looking for the best matches to give our overall team the best lineup. Six of the seven varsity girls have played multiple positions this year. Our goal was to get the chemistry right so we could beat Highland, win regional, and make semistate – in that order.”
The first goal has been accomplished. The Times No. 1 Mustangs defeated No. 2 Highland 3-2 during the regular season, and 4-1 in the sectional semifinal.
Next up is the regional, where the Mustangs will go for their 27th crown. The 26 regional titles are more than any other Indiana high school, according to the IHSAA website.
“Winning regional is a big deal to us,” Sakevicius said. “It’s my last year, and I want to go out a winner.”
“It was weird the last two years when we did not get out of regional,” Paige Heuer said. “The program has a strong winning tradition, and we want to keep that going.”
If mixing the chemicals gives the Mustangs a better chance of advancing, both girls are all in.
“We all feel that we will play whatever position is best for the team,” Paige Heuer said. “Singles, doubles, whatever. As long as we can keep playing, that’s the main goal.”
With big doubles victories against Valparaiso, Chesterton and Culver, coach Heuer thinks the team is aligned for a strong run.
“We have taken care of business,” he said. “We are playing strong team tennis and playing smart. All of the girls have bought into playing wherever they are needed. We are set up to make a good postseason run.”