Two familiar opponents will face off from opposite sides of the nets during the championship round of the Marion Regional boys’ tennis tournament.
No. 23 Delta and No. 29 Marion, the two dominant forces in East Central Indiana for many years, will clash again, starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Delta (19-3) advanced by cruising past Winchester 5-0 in one of Tuesday evening’s semifinal matches at the Bill Beekman Tennis Complex. The entire match lasted just an hour, as the Eagles dropped only four games overall.
Marion (18-4) gained a 3-2 victory over Lapel by winning easily at No. 2 singles, No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles.
Delta and Marion do not play against each other in the regular season. But they have met many times in the regional during the past decade.
Marion beat Delta to win the regional title in 2011, ending Delta’s 16-year regional winning streak. Since then, Delta has won seven straight regional titles, beating Marion in most of those years.
Marion’s strength is in its three singles positions this fall. Delta will be favored a bit in the doubles match-ups, while the singles matches are likely to be hotly contested.
In Tuesday’s opening round, junior Tanner Southerland won 6-0, 6-0 over Winchester’s Alex Pegg. The victory was the 50th career varsity win for Southerland, who is now 15-10 for the fall in his first year at the top spot.
Junior Brandon Jackson improved to 22-3 at No. 2 singles with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Nick Dunica. Jackson now has 51 career varsity wins.
Senior Daniel Vencel defeated Winchester’s Ross Culy 6-0, 6-1. Vencel raised his record to 18-6 in his first season of varsity tennis.
At No. 1 doubles, seniors Mason Knight and Cade Brown romped to a 6-0, 6-0 victory in just over 30 minutes on the court. Knight and Brown are 18-6 this season. Knight has 54 career varsity victories, all in doubles, which elevates him into the top 10 all-time for Delta boys’ tennis in doubles victories.
At No. 2 doubles, senior Jaigen Glaze and sophomore Walker Boyle won 6-0, 6-1. Glaze increased his record to 18-3, while Boyle is 17-3. Both are first-year regular varsity players.
Knight, Jackson and Southerland are three of the 36 players in DHS Tennis history to reach the 50-win mark for varsity tennis. A fourth player, Michael Curtis, would also have topped 50 this season (he had 41 wins in his first two seasons), but he moved several months ago.
In the other match Tuesday evening, Lapel senior Jesse McCurdy rallied to beat Marion junior Vikram Oddiraju 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 1 singles. McCurdy advances in the individual singles and will play Burris freshman Charlie Behrman on Wednesday evening for the individual singles sectional championship.
Mississinewa and Madison-Grant also remain alive in doubles. (Delta’s Brown and Knight are unbeaten in the postseason at No. 1 doubles and could feed into the individual tourney, also, if they were to win Wednesday and the Eagles were to lose as a team.)
Around the state, only 32 teams remain in the chase for the team state championship. Delta has competed this season against nine teams that are among the final 32: Jeffersonville, Columbus North, Jasper, Zionsville, Culver Military, Fort Wayne Carroll, West Lafayette, Hamilton Southeastern and Castle.