For a brief but important history lesson, in 1992, the internet was just getting started. There were 10 total websites in existence. Cell phones were rare, and those who were lucky enough to have one, carried something that was the size of a shoe. Jordan brought the Chicago Bulls their 2nd NBA Championship, and Knightstown won the tennis Sectionals. 26 years later, the Panthers won again, ending the drought.
The Championship Match was Friday at New Castle, against Tri High. This was our 3rd look at Tri this season, and even though we won the 2 previous matchups, the margins were small. Both teams knew from the County Finals that we held the upper hand on singles courts and Tri held the advantage in doubles. Yet both teams knew that anything can happen.
AJ Dalton got the Panthers started, playing as well as he had all year, winning #1 Singles 6-1, 6-2. Garrett Dalton followed suit, winning #2 Singles 6-3, 6-3. Cooper Davis notched the most lopsided win of the night, dominating the #3 Singles court 6-0, 6-1. The Panthers won where they had to win and they did it in convincing fashion.
#1 Doubles, however, refused to follow the script. They shocked Tri, winning the first set 6-0, playing their best tennis of the year. Ethan Yoder and Kyle Johnson battled for every point. Although they dropped the next two sets, 3-6, 3-6, they continued to fight until the end of the match.
Alex Cook and Dylan Chandler also faced a difficult match. Tri #2 Dubs won the TEC tournament, and had only lost one match all season. Cook and Chandler executed the plan they were given and played well but came up short, 3-6, 2-6. Regardless, the Panthers had already clinched the Sectional Championship, punching their ticket to the Regionals. The team enjoyed a spirited ride home along with a police/firetruck escort.
Knightstown will face 28th ranked Richmond (4A) on Tuesday, at Richmond. In Indiana, tennis is not divided into classes. The Panthers are ranked approximately 3rd in the state among A and AA schools and could compete for a State Championship among schools of similar size, but IHSAA mandates single class tennis. 37 of the last 41 State Tennis Championships were won by either Carmel, North Central or Park Tudor. Regardless, the Panthers will come to compete as they have all year.