MUNSTER — Joe Webster was the one battling Justin Jackson in the No. 1 singles match at last year’s Munster Regional semifinal.
The two went back and forth for a long three sets, with Webster eventually winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 for the host Mustangs.
This season, Webster is Munster’s No. 3 singles player, behind sophomores Jack Gauderman and Peyton Specht.
“Peyton and Jack were freshmen last year. I’m really happy for them that they’ve improved so much. It’s still an honor to play varsity,” Webster said. “It’s not an ego thing. Everybody would love to play (No. 1) singles, but every single spot on this team is worth the same amount in the final score. If I can just help my team win, that’s all the matter to me.”
Webster won his regional semifinal match at No. 3 singles this year over Merrillville’s Noah Terpstra 6-0, 6-1. That's what Webster expects of himself.
“The competition at (No. 3) is obviously not as good as it is at (No. 1) so I go out in every match trying to win,” he said. “I’ve matured a lot this season, in my game. I’m really just trying to succeed for my team. Every match I go out there, I do expect to win.”
Gauderman said he never dreamed he’d bump Webster as a 10th-grader.
“I never really had a challenge match against him. Just after pool play, this is how we ended up,” Gauderman said. “It felt pretty good. I thought I would be two or three but I worked hard in the offseason.”
Gauderman beat Jackson 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday.
Munster topped the Pirates 5-0 and will meet Crown Point in Wednesday’s regional championship. The Bulldogs beat Bishop Noll 5-0.
Something no one else would ‘do: The Bulldogs’ No. 3 singles player, Armondo Bracco, wanted to do something special for the postseason. So, he went for a haircut.
The junior had “CP” and a star carved into his head.
“It’s just something I’d thought about doing,” he said. “I originally got it cut before sectionals and just yesterday got it fixed up.”
It took some effort to make it happen.
Bracco usually gets his hair cut at McFly’s Gentlemen’s Shop in Crown Point but couldn’t get an appointment. So, he went to Edwin Torres, who moved from McFly’s to Sola Salon Studios.
“I just told him that I wanted ‘CP’ and then just go at it, show his artistry,” Bracco said. “I wanted to do something a little more extreme, a little bit bold, something no one else would do.”
Just another regional title: Munster won the last three regional championships. The last team to beat the Mustangs was Crown Point in 2014. Lowell in 2004 but Munster owns 25 of last 27 regional trophies going back to 1991.
“We all want to continue the legacy,” Webster said. “It’s like stairs. The next step is obviously semistate but in order to get to semistate, you have to win at regionals. It still means a lot to this team to win.”
Munster has bigger plans, though.
“We care a little bit (about regional titles) but it’s not really the goal we’re after,” Gauderman said. “Our goal is to get to state. Regionals is just a step on the way.”
That sort of confidence will remain with Munster until another team knocks it off the pedestal.
“Coach (Patrick Spohr) tells us that we’ve just got to go out there and we’ve just got to do it,” Specht said. “We know we can win. We know we’re the best in the Region. We just have to prove it.
“To beat all these other teams pretty easily, I guess it just comes pretty naturally for Munster.”
It’s a rematch: Crown Point and Munster played September 24. It’ll be just over a week since the Mustangs took a 4-1 win from the Bulldogs when the teams meet again.
In a modified Munster lineup, Jack Gauderman needed three sets to beat Zach Jones. Jones will meet Specht on Wednesday.
“I’m expected a good match, but I’m expecting to come out on top,” Specht said. “I’m ready.”
Munster is confident but Crown Point believes it’s ready, too.
“It’s definitely going to be close, I think,” Bracco said. “I’m definitely excited for it. We’ll see, but I’m feeling pretty good about how we match up against them. I’m ready for a good fight.
“Munster, it’s just a name behind them. You’ve got to put that out of your head. Strip them of that and play.”