BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – The Kokomo Wildkats boys tennis team added to its trophy case on Sept. 24. One week after winning the North Central Conference for the second consecutive year, the Kats hosted and won the Wildkat Open. Kokomo defeated North Montgomery 4-1 in the opening round and then downed Marion 3-2 in the championship.
In the opening match win, all three of the Kats singles players claimed points – Taiga Tamura, Trevor Emerick and Cory Hanson. Grant Patterson and Tyler Hawk teamed for the fourth point in doubles.
“We were proud to see Cory get a win in his first varsity match ever,” said Kokomo head coach Shawn Flanary.
In the championship match, Kokomo and Marion faced off for the second time in seven days. The Kats defeated the Giants 4-1 in the semifinals of the NCC tournament. This time, the result was the same but the battle was not.
“Not one individual match would be a rematch from last week,” said Flanary. “Marion loaded its doubles in an effort to get No. 1 singles and sweep the doubles in the rematch.”
While Flanary said the rematch was closer, the Kats still came out on top. No. 2 singles Max Esponda and No. 3 singles Emerick grabbed two quick points, losing just three total games.
“We got strong starts at the other three spots, winning the first set in all three of them,” said Flanary. “Even though we had great starts, Marion would battle and force third sets at 1 singles and both doubles. I was really proud of how our boys battle at all three of those spots.”
The duo of Nate Hemmerich and Connor Sanburn at No. 2 doubles sealed the team win with a three-set victory.
“I am very proud of how our boys competed in these matches,” said Flanary. “Taiga, Grant and Tyler battled, but all came up a little shy in the third sets.”
Kokomo also won the junior varsity tournament.
No. 18 Kokomo (17-4) followed the Wildkat Open title with a 3-2 victory on the road at No. 17 West Lafayette on Sept. 26. The Kats will be favored to win its third consecutive and 26th overall sectional title when the IHSAA Kokomo Boys Tennis Sectional begins next month.