FORT WAYNE — Homestead’s boys tennis players used Westview as a stepping stone to the state finals, taking a convincing 5-0 win over the Warriors in the semi-state match they hosted.
The Spartans ended Carroll’s season with their regional championship win on Oct. 6, put away the Warriors on Saturday.
Now, just three matches stand between Homestead and a state title — but it starts with the state’s toughest opponent. The No. 4 Spartans will travel to No. 1 Carmel to face the Greyhounds on their home courts on Friday.
However, the players are coming into the match with confidence that they can score the three points they need to advance.
“They’re the best team in the state. We never want to underestimate them. Its definitely going to be tough but I think we can earn three points if we play hard,” senior Landon Sather said.
Head coach Michael Hower knows the players will have their work cut out for them, and is spending the week preparing for the state’s top-ranked team.
“It’ll be our biggest challenge so far,” Hower said. “With Carmel, you have to be so clean. Every opportunity we get we have to capitalize on and be super focused.”
The semi-state win was especially sweet for the seniors, who were upset in the semi-state by Indianapolis North Central and missed out on their opportunity at state.
“Being able to get that second chance is huge,” Hower said.
The Spartans are no strangers to the state tournament, as Saturday’s victory was the squad’s 21st semi-state title.
Westview knew it had its work cut out.
“To win, we knew our level would absolutely have to be raised quite a bit, and theirs would have to drop,” Westview coach Tyler Miller said.
Though the Warriors knew they were coming in as the underdogs, they fought through the last set in every match.
“We competed. Our players didn’t give up,” Miller said. “All of this is was a really good experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Thaddeus Dressel faced Homestead’s toughest opponent in Westview’s Isaiah Hostetler, who put up a 6-3, 6-3 fight in a match that extended long past the others.
“I knew he was a good player,” Isaiah Hostetler said. “I came in with the mentality that I had nothing to lose. He’s obviously better than me, but all I could do was play as hard as I could.”
The sophomore said he lost some steam partway through the match.
“I was getting tired in the middle of the second set. We had some long rallies in some games. But I kept trying to get every ball,” he said.
The No. 2 doubles duo of Tim Brandenberger and Isaac Rogers put up a fight, falling 6-3, 6-1 to Homestead’s Sebastian Cowan and Alex Graber in a match that started competitively.
“We played pretty good in the first set, but struggled in the second,” Brandenberger said.
“We knew we’d be the underdogs but we tried to get as many games as we could,” Rogers said.
In No. 2 singles, Elijah Hostetler fell 6-0, 6-1 to Homestead’s Andrew Meier, and Brennan Beachy lost 6-2, 6-1 to Spartan Jared Sagan in No. 3 singles.
The No. 1 doubles duo of Will Clark and Brady Hostetler lost 6-2, 6-1 to Homestead’s Sather and Tim Steiner.
“It feels good knowing we can come out here and get a convincing win,” Sather said.