INDIANAPOLIS – Carmel coach Spencer Fields had to pause a few seconds before answering a reporter’s question.
His team had just completed what amounted to nothing more than a coronation, a 5-0 win over Jasper in the IHSAA boys tennis state finals at North Central on Saturday.
The victory completed the second straight undefeated (22-0) state-championship season for the Greyhounds and their 10th title in program history.
This one, however, is a bit different. A year ago, Fields guided Carmel to the team title, then saw his No. 1 singles player, Patrick Fletchall, win the individual singles title and the Greyhounds’ No. 1 doubles team take that championship trophy home.
This season ended Saturday with Carmel’s three singles players not losing a match — all season. At No. 1 doubles, Carmel only lost once. All told, the Greyhounds won each match 5-0, except five. Four of those, Carmel won, 4-1. The other was a 5-1 triumph over Jasper in a regular-season match played under an altered format and without Fletchall.
So, given all that, is this Carmel’s best team ever?
“Well,” Fields said after a pause, “there are alumni here who would dispute that. But, what this team has done is very, very rare. After triple-crowning last year and now putting it all together again this year, there is no question, it’s definitely one of the best ever.”
It took Carmel barely an hour to dispatch Jasper (20-4) to claim this title. Fletchall came off the court first with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Dawson Hopf and, moments later, Presley Thieneman also claimed a 6-0, 6-0 win, this one over Eli Franks.
The clincher came from the No. 2 doubles duo of Garrett Lloyd and Uday Lomada, who took out Andrew Hochgesang and Andrew Kluemper, 6-1, 6-0. That left No. 3 singles Nishanth Basavareddy and the No. 1 doubles crew of Timmy Dixon and Drew Michael to complete the match, which they did in straight sets.
“In singles, we played fantastic,” Fields said. “Our 2 doubles stepped up, as well. It’s been an amazing day.”
“We knew what we were up against,” Jasper coach Scott Yarbrough said. “We have tons of respect for coach Fields and what this program does. Getting this far (the Wildcats beat Culver Military Academy, 4-1, in the morning semifinal) is a feather in our cap.”
Carmel’s only negative for the day came in the morning semifinal, a 4-1 victory over No. 5 Park Tudor. The loss came at No. 1 doubles, where Park Tudor’s Will Emhardt and Drew Wiegel beat Dixon and Michael, 7-5, 6-3.
Dixon and Michael had been unbeaten and the loss eliminates them from the state individual doubles finals Friday and Saturday at Park Tudor. That keeps Carmel from duplicating last year’s “triple crown.” Fletchall will be back to defend his singles title, while the Park Tudor crew remains alive, as well.
The question now for the Carmel program is how long this run can continue. With only two seniors (Fletchall and Michael) graduating, the answer likely quite a while.
“Our seniors have driven this machine,” Fields said, “so, we will miss them. We will have to reload, a bit, but we are in a healthy spot. We’re about 20 deep with kids who play tennis year-round. There are teams that have won two or three in a row, but to create a dynasty like North Central in the 1980s, we have to keep improving.
“Hopefully, we’ll get there.”