NAPPANEE — The NorthWood boys tennis team kept its undefeated season rolling Thursday with a 5-0 victory over Northern Lakes Conference opponent, Goshen.
Not even two weather delays could slow down the Panthers as they improved to 8-0 (4-0 NLC) on the year. A 15-minute rain and 30-minute lightning delay occurred within an hour of each other as the players were in their second sets.
NorthWood picked up another strong performance from their No. 1 singles player, Wes Troyer. The senior used his power to knock off RedHawk senior Ryan Harmelink, 6-3, 6-1.
“He’s got such a heavy topspin ball that it’s tough,” said NorthWood coach Tif Schwartz of Troyer. “Being a lefty, you get a little bit different spin than maybe a right-handed person would have, and that just helps the game more as well.”
Harmelink forced a lot of long rallies against Troyer, but ultimately the Panthers’ top individual was too much for Goshen’s No. 1 singles player to overcome.
“Ryan will always compete. He’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever known. He’s never going to give up,” Goshen coach Daniel Love said. “But, Wes was on offense for pretty much the whole match. So, Ryan is playing defense. He’s a good defender, but Wes was really in control and played aggressive, smart tennis.”
The first match to end Thursday came at No. 1 doubles, when the senior Panther pairing of Jack Wysong and Landon Holland cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Goshen junior Brenton Pham and sophomore Carter Schumacker.
No. 2 singles featured NorthWood junior Ben Vincent picking up a 6-0, 6-4 decision over RedHawk junior Carlos Lichty. No. 2 doubles also finished up around the same time, as the Panther duo of senior Bryce Harner and junior Treyton Martin won 6-2, 6-1 over Goshen freshman Moses Sawatzky and junior Cormac Koop Lichty.
This left No. 3 singles to finish up. Even though NorthWood had already won the match overall, Goshen senior Wyatt Fisher and NorthWood senior Chase Horner battled in a tough two-set match. Horner won the first set 6-2, but Fisher raced out to a 5-2 lead to start the second.
The match seemed destined for a third set, but Horner wouldn’t allow it. The senior rattled off five-straight game victories to win the set, 7-5, and the match in straight sets.
“A lot of it is drive and desire, in his mind. I think he did not want to lose,” said Schwartz of Horner. “He started to finally reel-in some of the longer points and make them count instead of getting impatient and trying to put balls away or doing too much with the ball.”
Fisher has recently been playing doubles tennis, which Love thinks could’ve played a factor in Fisher’s endurance during the second set.
“He just ran out of steam,” said Love about Fisher. “Unfortunate timing for that because if he wins one more game, we get a 10-minute break and catch our breath a little bit. ... He had been playing doubles for the last five, six matches. Singles is a different game. You’re tracking a lot more balls down, a lot more court.”
Goshen (3-5, 1-2 NLC) knew they were in for a battle against NorthWood. Love thought his team battled well against a good Panthers team.
“I think we competed pretty well most of the time. We were in several of the sets,” Love said. “At the end of the day, you can’t control whether your opponent has better skill than you, but you can control if you compete to the best of your ability. And, I thought we did that today.”
Thursday was the 101st career victory as the boys tennis head coach at NorthWood for Schwartz. She picked up win 100 Tuesday against Plymouth. It’s been an up-and-down 17 years for Schwartz in Nappanee, but the coach feels like this team has the chance to be special.
“It’s been exciting. It’s been a fun 17 years,” Schwartz said. “I’m really excited for this team. I think they have a lot of potential and show me different things every day. ... The sky’s the limit for them right now.”