MUNSTER — The goal in Munster is always to go to state, but players feel like the lineup is built especially well to do so this season.
Munster earned its fifth straight regional trophy Wednesday with a 3-2 regional final win over Crown Point.
“It’s not pressure that it’s all on the line and we can’t lose the streak, but it just gives you confidence,” Charlie Morton said. “We’ve done it in the past.”
Morton and No. 1 doubles teammate Kathir Venkat won their match 6-3, 6-3 over Cal Curiel and Zach Jones.
“It’s a lot of prestige, such a great school and we’ve won so many times. You don’t want to let that streak die,” Venkat said. “For me, it inspires me to push hard and make sure we don’t let anybody down.”
It’s the 25th regional in 27 seasons and state-record 36th overall.
“I always come into this match with as much confidence as I need, but it’s the state tournament. You never know what’s going to happen,” Mustangs coach Patrick Spohr said. “I learned after my first year that nothing’s a given.”
Spohr praised the Bulldogs, who he said played much better than during a regular season meeting that Munster took 4-1.
“Every single point, they played a higher level of tennis that what we saw during the season,” Spohr said. “Crown Point’s always been that team that’s just a little bit under us, helping push to achieve what we have, knowing that they’re on our tails that close.”
Bulldogs senior Leyton Noerenberg won the No. 1 singles match 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 over Payton Specht.
“I was just focusing on every point,” Noerenberg said. “I just kept reminding myself that this could be my last match of the season. This could be my last match of high school tennis. I wanted to leave everything I had on the court.”
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The third set was an emotional one, with all the other matches finished and both teams and all fans focused on the court. Both Noerenberg and Specht pumped fists and yelled after each point won.
“That support was just crazy,” Noerenberg said. “That’s the situation I live to play for. This is the situation you want, Munster regional at No. 1 singles. Come on, anyone would kill to be in that spot.”
Daniel Sroka, Munster’s freshman at No. 3 singles, extended his season record to 23-1 with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Jackson Pawlowski.
“That was pivotal. At that point, we didn’t know if we were going to have (Nos. 1 and 2 singles). We knew we had to have it because it was going to be close,” Spohr said. “We’ve got to give the freshman some credit.”
Crown Point’s Armando Bracco won No. 2 singles 6-1, 7-5 over Nikki Kondamuri. Munster won the No. 2 doubles match, with Joe Webster and Donald Fesko beating Zack Hill and Seth Gozo 6-2, 6-1.
The Mustangs will meet host Culver Academy at 11 a.m. Saturday in Culver Academies Semistate No. 2. Munster won a regular-season meeting with the Eagles 4-1.
The host Slicers won their first regional crown since 2007, sweeping doubles play and edging South Bend St. Joseph 3-2. It's the 13th overall title for LaPorte (18-6).
Carson Stalbaum and Tristen Poe won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles against the Indians (23-2), while Liam Wolf and Brock Schultz won 6-4, 6-1 at No. 2. The Slicers lost No. 1 and No. 2 singles, but Alex Ake won 6-1, 6-3 at No. 3.
LaPorte advances to Culver Academies Semistate No. 1 on 11 a.m. Saturday to face No. 1-ranked Carmel.