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For the first time in several years, winners at some of the area's boys tennis sectional sites could be as unpredictable as a high toss on a windy day.
No. 4-ranked Canterbury is the only ranked team in the area, and the 15-1 Cavaliers will likely face Northeast Hoosier Conference champion Homestead at the Spartans' new Jimmy Clark Community Tennis Center in Thursday's championship match. Canterbury opens with Bishop Luers and Homestead faces Wayne in Wednesday's opening round.
Homestead is 9-7 overall, beating Norwell 3-2 and Carroll 4-1 to take the conference title. The No. 2 doubles team of juniors Jack Stanley and Mitch Gilbert is 16-5 and freshman Jordan Andrews is 13-9 at No. 2 doubles.
The Spartans lost to Canterbury 3-2 during the regular season. Looking for their fourth straight title, the Cavaliers are loaded, led by seniors David Huber, Chris Yahanda and Clay Hoffacker and junior Tom Filus. Huber is 12-2 at No. 1 singles and Filus is 20-1 at No. 3. Canterbury's only loss is to No. 2 North Central.
Summit Athletic Conference champion Bishop Dwenger, 11-1, is the favorite for a third straight title at Concordia, led by the No. 1 doubles team of Charlie Scott and Bertram Najev who are 11-0. Sophomore Patrick Holly will take a 14-4 mark into No. 1 singles play, and junior Joseph Varacco is 15-3 at No. 3 singles.
The Carroll Sectional could be the most interesting in terms of overall balance. The host Chargers are 15-4 led by sophomore Alex Houser who is 12-10 at No. 1 singles. The No. 1 doubles team of sophomore Jay Stanchin and senior Dillon Fernando is 19-3.
The four-time defending champion Chargers will likely face 15-6 SAC runner-up Northrop in Thursday's second round. The Bruins, who play Blackhawk Christian in Wednesday's opening round, are led by junior No. 1 singles player Alex Stavretis, 17-2.
The other half of the Carroll draw is just as interesting as Allen County Athletic Conference power Leo, 14-2, faces Snider, 12-3 in the first round. The Panthers are strong in singles as No. 1 singles senior Matt Golm is 15-5, junior Matt Krites is 17-3 at No. 2 and senior Stephen Halstead is 17-3 at No. 3. Freshman No. 1 singles player Eli Steiner paces the Lions with an 18-1 mark, and the No. 1 doubles team of sophomore Tyler Christlieb and junior Dustin Lukemire is 13-6.
The Norwell Sectional could be just as much of a tossup as defending champion Adams Central has the best record at 10-3, but the Jets beat Norwell, Huntington North and Bellmont all by 3-2 scores during the season.
The Jets are particularly strong in doubles where seniors Ben Kaehr and Conner Lengerich are 13-0 at No. 1 doubles, and senior Nate Timmons and junior Jared Lehman are 9-3 at No. 2. Norwell is 11-7, led by senior No. 1 singles player Jordan Dickey who is 13-8, and the No. 1 doubles team of juniors Brandon Burch and Alex Hunter who are 17-4. The Jets and Knights will likely meet in the semifinals.
DeKalb will try to end Angola's five-year title run at DeKalb. The Hornets started their streak by ending the Barons' four-year run in 2008.
The winners at Carroll, Concordia, Homestead and Norwell advance to the Carroll Regional on Oct. 8-9. The East Noble and DeKalb winners go to the Concord Regional. Homestead hosts the semistate Oct. 12.