AP NEWS

Got ’em again

September 12, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — If you talk to New Prairie head boys tennis coach Joel Hostetler about the tightly-contested rivalry over the years between his Cougars and Michigan City, he’ll say that his teams have usually gotten the better of the Wolves, but not always by that much.

“In the years that I’ve been here, we’ve usually gotten the better of the matches,” Hostetler said on Monday. “Every year that I can remember, it’s been 3-2. It’s always coming down to one match here or one match there that makes all the difference in the end. You can ask [Wolves head coach] Mike (Tsugawa). We’ve usually come out on top, but his teams never make it easy for us. It’s not like anybody dominates in these matches.”

So it was Monday, when New Prairie clipped the host Wolves by that same score.

Hostetler’s bunch dropped both matches at No. 1 and No. 2 singles to City’s Devon Stromer (6-3, 5-7, 10-4) and Danny Walker (6-2, 6-4), but Josh Ferrell won at No. 3 singles (6-1, 6-1), Levi Britton/Joe Henning won at No. 1 doubles (6-4, 7-6 (5)) and Colten Kitchen/Isaac Kuczmanski sealed the deal at No. 2 doubles (6-2, 6-4) for the Cougars’ 13th win in 14 matches this season.

“I figured it would be 3-2,” Hostetler said. “It was just the matter of which way would it be 3-2. Both doubles were very close, which I figured they would be. We got pushed really hard in all four sets between the two matches. Picking up those two points was huge because we needed No. 3 singles and the kid (City’s Lucas White) played well. You gotta give City credit. Josh was out there for over an hour, hour and 20 minutes. This was a good match to see what we can put out there because we could see City again in the sectional.”

The two sides have been neck-and-neck with each other on multiple occasions, including two weekends ago at the annual New Prairie Invitational, which was won by the hosts with City finishing right behind the Cougars as the runner-ups of the event.

“I think we really saw the best of both teams tonight at almost all the spots,” Tsugawa said after the match. “I think we could’ve played a shade better at No. 2 doubles, but that’s the same team that we beat in a tiebreak at their tournament. It just proves that, hey, if you beat a guy once, it doesn’t mean you own them. They came back with a little extra fire and if we see them in the sectionals, it’s 1-1 between those guys in what could be a key match if we see them again.”

Despite coming up just short against the Cougars for the second time in a couple weeks, Tsugawa was pleased with his team’s performance across the board, including in a spot where the Cougars have dominated this season.

“I loved the fight we showed, especially at No. 1 doubles,” Tsugawa said. “The last time we played them, they hammered us. They absolutely hammered us at the tournament. I’m pretty sure Levi and Joel are undefeated this season and they’re as good as any doubles team you’re going to see around here. For Christoph [Walker] and Tommy [Komay] to play against a quality team like that is only going to make them better.

I’d love to play this New Prairie side again. They’re well-coached, they’re classy and as far as I’m concerned, I’m as happy as I can be and lose.”

Reach Michael Whitlow at mwhitlow@thenewsdispatch.com or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.

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