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Munster falls just short of state finals match
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BOYS TENNIS | State semifInals

Munster falls just short of state finals match

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Peyton Specht, Munster

Munster's No. 1 singles player Peyton Specht is one of two seniors that started for the Mustangs, who lost in the state semifinals to North Central 3-2 on Saturday.

Munster boys tennis fell a match short of a chance to play for a state title, losing 3-2 to North Central in the state semifinals Saturday.

“It is a heartbreaker. It stinks that we had to end our season like this but at the end of the day, I’m happy and I hope the rest of the team is happy,” senior Peyton Specht said.

Coach Patrick Spohr said Munster entered the day expecting to need to win both doubles matches and hoping Nikky Kondamuri could take his match at No. 2 singles.

Both doubles teams won. Kondamuri pushed Alex Antonopolous but ultimately fell 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. Kondamuri was serving for the match but wasn’t able to finish.

“We were facing COVID at the beginning of the year, not even knowing if we were going to be able to compete. We had injuries and had to piece it together,” Spohr said. “I consider the season a complete success. When you’re knocking on the door like that, there’s always going to be a letdown.”

At No. 2 doubles, Max Ladd said he and Nick Stephan decided, after losing the first set, to give up on a lobbing game plan in favor of rushing the net and playing more aggressively. They won their match with Jackson Hahn and Andrew Haggstrom 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

“We started off this year ranked No. 7 (by the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association) and we ended up getting third at state. That’s four spots better,” Ladd said. “I know it’s only one match better than last year, but it means a whole lot more than that. I’m proud.”

The No. 1 doubles team of Ryan Muntean and Charlie Morton remain alive in the singles and doubles state tournament. They beat Seraj Hamid and Caden Lesnick 6-3, 6-0 Saturday.

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Danny Sroka took a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Maurquis Willingham at No. 3 singles. Specht fell 6-3, 6-2 to Ajay Mahenthiran.

Spohr said Specht’s leadership will be missed by the program. Munster's annual Smash Cancer fundraiser may have gone dormant without Specht, Spohr said.

“Peyton is one of those kids that I’m going to feel the effect of him being gone for years to come. I’ve watched him grow from a kid to an adult,” Spohr said. “He was such a positive presence on and off the court, someone the kids could look to for guidance, someone I could bounce ideas off of.”

“I’ve taken all of (Spohr’s) advice, whether I’ve liked it or not. Most of it I have liked and I’ve taken it to heart. He definitely is one of the coaches who’s pushed me and made sure I’m the most successful tennis player I can be,” Specht said. “I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to represent Munster High School these past four years.”

Ladd and Specht, the only starting seniors, both said they feel comfortable leaving the program in the hands of the underclassmen. Specht said he expects the Mustangs to compete for a state championship again immediately.

“I’ve accepted that it was my last match at Munster. I went out strong, with a ‘W.’ I did my part for the team,” Ladd said. “I couldn’t ask to be on a better team. I’ve always been proud to play for Munster. It’s an honor.”

“Once a ‘Stang, always a ‘Stang,” Specht said.

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