One doubles duo moves on to Regional as the Titans’ tennis season ends

Junior Jake Decker and senior Carson Brindle advance in the individual IHSAA tournament.

The Titans’ tennis season came to an end on Wednesday with a 2-3 loss in the first round of Sectional 23 held at Princeton Community High School. The Titans took on the Princeton Tigers in the first round, looking to flip the score from their previous 1-4 loss earlier in the season. 

“We really felt like we had a great chance to win the Sectional this year,” said senior two doubles player Oliver Hamilton. “We built a lot of momentum coming into the match with a streak of wins and felt like we matched up very well.”

Number one singles player, junior Eliott Church, faced off against Princeton’s Cade Hurt. Church went on to lose 1-6 in both sets. 

Number 3 singles player, freshman Lucas Church, played Princeton’s Jarrett Kinder. The matchup between the two freshmen saw Kinder win in two sets: 6-3 and 7-5. 

In doubles action, the Titans swept both matches. Gibson Southern’s number one duo junior Jake Decker and senior Carson Brindle defeated Brady Kidd and Dillon Firkins 6-2 and 7-5, while the number two duo of senior Oliver Hamilton and sophomore John Kiesel defeated Jacob Payme and Liam Stone 6-2 and 7-6. 

The Titan’s number one doubles team will be moving on individually in the IHSAA tournament with its win against Princeton. 

“I’m really excited that we get to continue,” Decker said. “While I’m sad the team isn’t there to play with us, I think we did our job well, and we will do our best to represent Gibson Southern in the next round.”

The number two singles match between Gibson Southern’s sophomore Landon Kiesel and Princeton’s Garrett Scott is what lifted the Tigers to victory. The intense, back-and-forth match saw Kiesel lose the first set 4-6 but take back the second set and win 7-6, sending them into a third set. Scott took the win in the third set 7-5, putting the final match score at 3-2 to Princeton. 

“The number two singles match was nothing short of incredible, decided by one or two points at most,” Titan head coach Matt Grabbe said. “Landon lost the first set and was down 1-4 in the second set. We had some discussion, and he figured out a game plan that took him all the way back to win in a second set tiebreaker. On the second-to-last point in the tiebreaker, Landon pulled up at the end with a calf cramp but luckily finished the set out. He was literally limping around the entire third set, but that was some of the most inspired tennis that I have seen in many years. The way he stepped up under the light while cramping in both legs will be something that I will remember as a coach forever.”

Besides the one doubles team, the rest of the Titan’s season comes to an end with the loss. The team will be returning all three singles players, as well as Decker and Kiesel for doubles. The Titans will only be graduating two seniors: Brindle and Hamilton. 

“I think the groundwork has been created,” Grabbe said. “The hardest part of the build is getting everyone to buy in and see what it actually takes to win. I believe that happened this year. You have to get so close that you can taste it.” 

The one doubles duo will be playing either Oct. 5 or Oct. 6 in the individual IHSAA tournament hosted at Evansville North.