Division title within sight for Indians’ boys’ tennis
Last season, Seaford’s varsity boys’ tennis team narrowly edged Indian River for the Southern Henlopen Division title. Both finished their regular season 11-2, with one loss apiece – to each other – and one loss each to defending conference champions Caesar Rodney, out of the Henlopen North. The title came down to games allowed at the end of the season, which gave the Blue Jays the upper hand. And, by the look of this season, the Indians are facing another dramatic year.
So far, Indian River has only succumbed to one team – Caesar Rodney. But with an early-season win over Seaford already, and a win this past Monday, April 16, over Milford, the Indians have improved to 6-1 and have their sights fixed on the division title.
The Blue Jays are currently 4-2, with their losses coming against the Riders of Caesar Rodney, and in their first matchup against Indian River, on the Indians’ courts – the same two matches they dropped last season.
“Right now,” said Indian River head coach Paris Mitchell Jr., “we’re jockeying for position in the division. We still have to play Seaford on their courts later this season. I think it will be a good match, but I think we can do it. We have a good shot at winning the South.”
Mitchell knew that, after the Easter holiday break, Monday’s match versus the Buccaneers of Milford wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but the 4-1 win was a welcome one. Indian River’s first-singles player Jordan Marshall and third-singles player Danny Seeley defeated Milford’s Alfred Legree and Seth Hastings, respectively, in two 6-2 sets.
The Indians’ first-doubles team of Ethan Kleinstuber and Josh Mercer won their match, 6-1, 6-2, against Bryan Messick and Jamie Morales. Sam Izzo and Ridge Murray, IR’s second-doubles team, earned a 6-2, 6-3, victory over the Buc’s Radhey Patel and Randall Daino. Both of those doubles teams at Indian River maintained undefeated records on the season, though Kleinstuber and Mercer were not in the lineup when the Indians played the Riders, just before the break.
“I’m really proud of our doubles teams,” said Mitchell. “But we’re going to have to get some more matches under their belt to help improve their overall record. CR has had to juggle their lineup around, too, so we’ll see whose is better at the end of the year.”
But, before they get there, the Indians will still have to face tough competition in teams such as Cape Henlopen, Polytech and, of course, the rematch with the Blue Jays at Seaford.
“We beat Seaford 4-1 earlier this year,” said Mitchell. “It wasn’t a 3-2 game. We should be able to pull off another win, even when we have to go there. So far, the guys are coming out to play, and that’s all I can ask for.”
The Indians will hope to improve their record for quality standings in the Henlopen Conference tournament, and for the state seedings.
“We knew these games against Seaford and Caesar Rodney were going to be dogfights,” Mitchell added. “I think we’ve really got a chance to make a run in the conference tournament, and, as long as we continue to play well, we should be able to win out this season and go 13-1.” Doing so would secure a lock on the Southern Henlopen Division title for the Indians. Indian River was scheduled to head to Cape Henlopen this Wednesday, April 18, (after Coastal Point Press deadline), and will host Sussex Central on Friday, April 20, before facing Smyrna and Lake Forest in the coming week.