Even a dedicated fan couldn’t have predicted the results of the Sept. 5 Carroll Boys Tennis Invitational based on ranks and records. After several losses deemed upsets at the time, the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association has shuffled its state rankings, affecting the standings of several teams competing for the trophy at Carroll earlier this month.
“A couple of us coaches have talked about this over the last couple weeks, and really anywhere from about 7 to, we feel like, almost 25 or so, can beat anybody on any given day,” Kyle Stoffel, Carroll’s head tennis coach and the head rater for boys tennis teams in the state of Indiana, said. “There’s not tons of dominance this year in boys tennis. Carmel probably, North Central, Brownsburg, they’re good, but it’s just not the dominance we’ve seen in the past by a few teams where they kind of set themselves apart down to maybe 15 or so.”
Carroll’s team came into its home tournament Sept. 5 ranked No. 11 in the state — just one spot behind No. 10 Hamilton Southeastern — with an 8-1 record. The team shutout unranked Concord in the first round, before falling to No. 23 Cathedral 4-1 and rival No. 21 Homestead 3-2. The Chargers placed fourth out of seven teams, while the Spartans claimed third.
Homestead also defeated Delta, who was ranked No. 27 at the time, while taking a loss to Hamilton Southeastern. Canterbury — unranked at the time — earned wins over Concord and Delta, claiming three matches in each, while also falling to Hamilton Southeastern.
Canterbury’s 2-1 performance followed a 3-2 win over No. 17 Bishop Dwenger just three days prior. The Cavaliers debuted in the state rankings at No. 23 Sept. 7, while the Saints dropped seven spots, from 17 to 24. HSE received a bump from 10 to 9 after their undefeated run at Carroll, and Cathedral moved up from 23 to 20. Homestead climbed eight spots from 21 to 13, and Carroll fell four spots from 11 to 15.
“I don’t feel great about it, but at the same time I can’t say I’m horribly surprised, because a whole bunch of these teams can beat any team on any given day,” Stoffel said following his team’s Sept. 5 loss to Homestead. “It’s not just this weekend either. We beat Canterbury, Homestead beat Canterbury. Dwenger beat Homestead, we beat Dwenger, and on Thursday Dwenger beat Canterbury. It’s one big cluster.
“Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I surprised? So-so. Canterbury beat Delta. Canterbury hadn’t been ranked. I think they should’ve been, but they hadn’t. Delta’s been ranked in the mid- to high-20s, so that was a little bit of an upset. It comes down to matchups, it comes down to some kind of momentum even within matches during the day.”
Both Carroll and Homestead were without their starting No. 3 singles players on the afternoon, which swung in the Spartans’ favor. The Chargers claimed points at No. 1 singles, thanks to a three-set win by sophomore Griffin Martin over senior Thaddeus Dressel, 2-6, 6-2, 10-2; and at No. 2 doubles, with seniors Matt Winteregg and Cayden Lew defeating Homestead’s Sam Hutner and Alex Graber 6-3, 2-6, 10-7. Winning for the Spartans were Stephen Meyer at No. 2 singles, 6-2, 6-3; Jared Sagan in a retired No. 3 singles match 6-4, 1-0; and seniors Landon Sather and Tim Steiner at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 6-1.
Players had to fight through strong gusts of wind throughout the tournament.
Carroll and Homestead were set to face each other again on Sept. 15, and the two could meet again at this year’s regional if they make deep enough runs in the postseason. Stoffel noted that teams throughout the state also have to worry about potentially having to quarantine players who come in contact with individuals that later test positive for COVID-19.
“Under different conditions, probably, (Carroll versus Homestead) will be interesting,” Stoffel said. “… There’s just so many uncertainties. I even told the guys a week ago, Carmel, who’s really set themselves apart from everyone else, in three weeks they could lose at sectional if four of their guys get taken out. You just don’t know day to day what’s going to happen.
“I guess the silver lining is I’m glad this isn’t happening the weekend before sectionals. I’d rather if we hit a little slump here in the season, it’s now and we get through it and bounce back.”