EMMA — Westview boys tennis has been a team that prides itself on its depth. That and mental toughness has carried the Warriors (23-1) to their second state finals appearance in three years.
No. 16 Westview plays No. 12 Jasper in the IHSAA State Quarterfinals at noon on Friday at Center Grove High School. The Wildcats have won all of their five postseason matches by the score of 5-0. The winner advances play the winner of Covington-Zionsville in the semifinals at Carmel High School at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
“We definitely had our eyes set on this,” No. 2 singles player Elijah Hostetler said at practice Tuesday.
The success of prior seasons has inspired players who are next up for a varsity spot to work on their game during the offseason.
“Even before the season, I already thought that we were going to have a really good season, because most of our guys were grinding so hard and putting in the practice,” No. 1 singles Isaiah Hostetler said.
Isaiah Hostetler is one who is constantly working on his craft. He can be seen many nights out on the courts at Westview practicing well after the rest of the team has gone home.
Hostetler has lost two matches this season. The second came to Vittorio Bona in the sectional championship, and it allowed some doubt to creep into Hostetler’s head.
“Things didn’t turn out how I wanted them to, and I wasn’t hitting like I was. It made me scared a little bit in a way. It made me scared that I wasn’t the player I was at the beginning of the season. I started to have a lot of doubt,” Isaiah said. “So in the first round of regionals when I played Northridge, the very first set I was still nervous.
“After I won that set, I got a lot more confidence, and I started playing a lot better.”
Hostetler said he felt back to normal at semi-state against Mississinewa.
The Warriors have been tested mentally multiple times throughout the postseason, and the match against East Noble was a big turning point. After Elijah Hostetler battled back from match point to win at No. 2 singles, it gave the rest of the Warriors a boost of confidence.
“From that point, I knew Elijah and all of us could handle the pressure of playing a really tough team and that we could get through it and make it really far in this tournament,” No. 1 doubles player Isaac Rogers said.
Rogers said he saw that continue at regionals against Northridge and Goshen, then at Saturday’s semi-state against Mississinewa.
Mental toughness will play a big part against the Wildcats on Friday.
“I think we’re going to be evenly matched, so I’m just going to have to fight the whole time, even if I’m down at some point,” Elijah said
Hostetler is one of four seniors that make up the varsity lineup. His classmates are Brennan Beachy at No. 3 singles and the No. 1 doubles team of Rogers and Kendall Schwartz.
Rogers and Schwartz have had their struggles during the postseason but are hoping a simple fix on Friday will turn their luck around.
“I think our main focus is just keeping the ball in the court. It sounds plain and simple, but we’ve had a tough time doing that lately. We need to keep the ball cross court, then take any ball we can down the middle to get the point into our hands and take advantage of the game right off the bat,” Rogers said.
Rogers complimented the fans who have showed up during their postseason run. At the Jimmy Clark Tennis Complex at Homestead last Saturday, there was a large contingent of Warrior fans.
“It’s just insane,” Rogers said. “Not just the amount, but the quality of the fans we have here, and the quality of our teammates cheering us on.”
The last time Westview made it to the state finals, there was a large group that made the trip down to the Indianapolis area. The fans that go down this season hope to see the school’s first team victory in the state finals. This squad has the depth to do so.