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Lebanon sweeps Hornets from sectional

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EYE ON IT: Rossville's Evan Price hits a high backhand during his No. 1 sectional singles match with Lebanon's Michael Wright on Thursday. Price lost 6-3, 6-3 to finish his season with a 15-2 record, with both losses coming to Wright.
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VOLLEY: Rossville's Griffin Williams hits a volley at the net during his No. 2 singles sectional match against Lebanon's Lukas Lefagle. Williams lost 6-2, 6-3 with Rossville falling 5-0 in the team match.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Rossville bowed out of the Lebanon boys tennis sectional with a 5-0 semifinal loss to the host school, with much of the intrigue in the match being whether Hornet No. 1 singles player Evan Price could avenge his only loss during the regular season to Lebanon’s Michael Wright.

Price took Wright to three sets earlier this season with Rossville head coach John Condreay believing that Wright should have forfeited the match for on-court behavior. In the rematch, Wright prevailed 6-3, 6-3. Price fought back from a 3-0 deficit in the second set to make it 3-2 before Wright broke back and held serve to close out the match.

“I think the biggest difference at No. 1 singles was that Michael Wright kept his composure tonight and kept his focus,” Condreay said. “I sat down with (Price) after the match and told him, ‘You’re a junior. You have another year to work toward that (advancing in the tournament).’”

Price finished his season with a 15-2 record with both losses coming to Wright. The Hornets did see improvement from their regular-season 5-0 loss to the Tigers.

“If you look at the scores from then to now, everybody but (No.) 1 singles was an 0-6, 0-6 type of thing,” Condreay said. “So, we did improve, but overall we’re still down 0-5.”

Griffin Williams lost 6-2, 6-3 to Lukas Lefagle at No. 2 singles and Evan Lawson fell 6-1, 6-1 to John Gascho at No. 3 singles. Grover Said and Jace Jacoby lost 6-1, 6-3 to Harrison Love and Nick Nies at No. 1 doubles and Dirk Shaw and Reid Douglas were beaten 6-1, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles.

“Across the board, our first sets were very slow and very ugly tennis,” Condreay said. “We came out almost across the board trying to play our way into the match. I’ve told them all season ‘we can’t do that, we have to come out fighting and be aggressive from the start.’

“Sadly, our No. 1 doubles was a sophomore and a senior and that team will be split up and (No.) 2 doubles was a junior, senior so that team will be split up,” he added. “We’ll see what happens in the off-season and what happens next year.”

Condreay remained critical of the sectional alignments and continued his support for a Class system.

“We were talking about it on the bus drive out here,” he said. “We have a very tough sectional whereas some of these schools don’t have near the amount of competition in their sectional and they are advancing out because they are playing weaker competition.

“You play within a system and the system isn’t a Class sport,” Condreay added. “Even though we are down the street from Delphi, we don’t play in their sectional. I’ve often said the sectionals need to be realigned to better reflect what’s going on in tennis.

“When you’ve got a little bitty (Class) A school going against the big boys, it’s a tough challenge. We face Lebanon during the regular season once. We face Zionsville only in sectional if we make it that far. Whereas you have schools like Carroll and Eastern that are advancing and we play them and we beat them but they just happen to be in a sectional easier than ours.”

Despite the loss, Condreay took some solace in his team rising above expectations.

“We finished the season 8-7 and a lot of people had us doing a lot worse than that,” he said. “We had a lot of close matches this year that we just didn’t close out so hopefully we’ll learn from them and move on.”

“We’ve got four graduating. Out of the four, three of them played tonight. We’ve got some talent coming back. It’s just going to depend on what we do in the off-season to prepare for a team that’s this strong and this determined.”

The match ended the high school tennis careers for seniors Said, Williams, Shaw and Matt Haan.

“Our seniors are a class group,” Condreay said. “They knew coming in here that it was going to be a tough challenge but I told them on the bus ride and once we got here, ‘This is it. If we lose and you left it all on the court there’s nothing be ashamed of.’

“We just didn’t want to come out and kind of phone it in and walk off regretting that, but my seniors have always done a good job of fighting through the tough situations. We just didn’t start off as strong as we wanted to.”

Lebanon advanced to the sectional final on Friday against No. 12 state-ranked Zionsville.