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New faces shine in North Harrison Invitational

New faces shine in North Harrison Invitational
New faces shine in North Harrison Invitational
Lanesville senior Ty Tidstrom jumps high to deliver a serve during the North Harrison Invitational on Saturday. Tidstrom and his doubles partner Ethan Patterson, advanced to the finals at No. 1 doubles before falling to eventual champion Austin. Photo by Brandon Miniard
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

Mid-to-late August is a sign of three constants at North Harrison High School: death, taxes and the school’s boys’ tennis invitational. As teams converged at the tennis courts behind the school building on Saturday, many familiar faces showed up, including the likes of the host Cougars, Lanesville, Corydon Central, Salem and defending champion Forest Park.

To paraphrase an ancient saying, the more things stay the same, the more things change, especially when buses belonging to Austin and Charlestown high schools soon parked next to the courts. The newcomers replace tournament mainstays Crawford County and New Washington, both of whom lacked the number of athletes to field teams for the 2021 season.

Another prominent name missing from this year’s tournament was South Central, which dropped out due to COVID-19 issues. Unlike the Crawford County and New Washington situations, a replacement could not be found in time, forcing the tournament to commence with only seven teams. Players across the five brackets set to open against the Rebels automatically moved on to the next round by default.

The new faces shined on Saturday as Austin rode first-place finishes at No. 1 singles and both doubles flights, finishing the day with a tournament-leading 48 points. Austin was followed by fellow newcomer Charlestown and the host Cougars, who finished tied for second with 30 points apiece. Next was Lanesville (28), Forest Park (17) and Salem (17) and Corydon Central (10).

Austin’s Brendan Hanner breezed to the championship round in the top singles flight after besting Corydon Central’s Ryan Hamilton (6-0, 6-2) and North Harrison’s Joe Davis (6-2, 6-1). Hanner had similar ease against Charlestown’s Alex Wright, winning the court by virtue of a 6-0, 6-3 final.

The host Cougars got a lift at No. 2 singles courtesy of senior Johnathon Seitz, who lost only three total games en route to the championship round against Corydon Central’s Cooper Shireman (6-1, 6-0) and Lanesville’s Marcus Hadley (6-1, 6-1). Seitz’s toughest challenge came from Charlestown’s Dawson Boyd initially before taking the flight 6-4, 6-0.

The most intense match of the tournament came in the championship match at No. 3 singles between Lanesville’s Jack Crosby and Charlestown’s Jackson Snelling. Crosby survived an opening-round battle against North Harrison’s Gavin Bigham 6-4, 6-3 before easily dispatching Austin’s Brooks Swank 6-1, 6-0. Snelling faced a mirrored series of events as he dispatched Corydon Central’s Sam Cox 6-0, 6-2 before squeaking out a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Forest Park’s Brock Schuler in the semi-final.

Snelling and Crosby struggled for advantage throughout, eventually exchanging 6-2 set victories to force a deciding set (first to 10 points). Despite dropping the second set, Snelling recovered to overcome Crosby in the deciding set to seal a 6-2, 2-6, 10-4 victory.

At the top doubles flight, the Lanesville duo of Ty Tidstrom and Ethan Patterson brushed aside Corydon Central’s Desmond and Kualheim 6-0, 6-2, but had a tougher time dispatching Salem’s Burton and Collins 6-4, 6-3. Tidstrom and Patterson met their match in the championship round against Austin’s Jakob Campbell and Josh Gabbard, who breezed to an easy 6-3, 6-1 clincher.

Austin’s duo of Nick Henderson and Bruce Parker had no problems against North Harrison’s Logan Martin and Dawson Allen at No. 2 doubles, cruising to a 6-0, 6-1 opening victory. Their semi-final matchup with Lanesville’s John Albers and Carter Smith was a different story, at least in the first set. Neither duo could pull away from the other, eventually forcing a grueling first-set tiebreaker that ultimately went to Henderson and Parker. Their second set was significantly easier, advancing to the championship round with a 7-6 (13-11), 6-3 final.

Overcoming the scare against Lanesville seemed to bring a second wind under the wings of Henderson and Parker as they dispatched Forest Park’s Conner Tretter and Korbyn Persohn 6-1, 6-1 to capture the Eagles’ third flight to secure the championship trophy.

Lanesville’s performance in the tournament was down slightly from the previous two seasons, having won the tournament in 2019 and finished runner-up a year ago. Alongside the runner-up finishes at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles, Smith and Albers won the third-place match 8-1 over Corydon Central while Dawson Teeter and Hadley finished in fourth place in the top two singles flights.

Seitz’s victory at No. 2 singles was the best finish of a strong showing for the host Cougars. Davis followed with a third-place finish at No. 1 singles, while Martin and Allen (No. 2 doubles) and sophomores Gavin Bigham (No. 3 singles), Zach Miller and Jakob Hoyer (No. 1 doubles) all finished fourth.

Despite finishing last in the seven-team tourney, the Panthers’ best showing came at No. 2 doubles, finishing in fifth after losing to Lanesville’s Smith and Albers in the third-place match.

Team scores: 1. Austin 48, 2t. North Harrison 30, 2t. Charlestown 30, 4. Lanesville 28, 5t. Forest Park 17, 5t. Salem 17, 7. Corydon Central 10.

Championship Matches: No. 1 Singles – Hanner (AU) def. Wright (CH) 6-0, 6-3; No. 2 Singles – Seitz (NH) def. Boyd (CH) 6-4, 6-0; No. 3 Singles – Snelling (CH) def. Crosby (LN) 6-2, 2-6, 10-4; No. 1 Doubles – Campbell/Gabbard (AU) def. Patterson/Tidstrom (LN) 6-3, 6-1; No. 2 Doubles – Bruce/Henderson (AU) def. Tretter/Persohn (FP) 6-1, 6-1.