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Cardinal netters still cruising alongPosted Wednesday, September 16, 2009, at 6:42 PM
They have compiled a 48-15 record over the past three seasons, including a 17-4 mark in 2008, one year after a record 16-5 record. This was just short of the 1997 team that posted an 18-4 mark in winning both the conference and sectional, the last time the Cards won a post season trophy.
This fall the Cardinals, under the guidance of coach Mike Canty, has won their first 12 matches, going into the North Central contest on Wednesday.
That means BHS has won 80 percent of its matches since 2005 and three SWIAC titles during that stretch.
If the Cards can get by North Central, which again has a very good boys tennis team, they would play Owen Valley and then Wood Memorial and likely host Loogootee in an invitational Saturday.
They would then face a competitive Northeast Dubois team, then Sullivan and then face North Daviess to conclude the regular season.
If the Cards run the table, it would mean breaking the school record with 19 wins and an incredible undefeated season. But Canty knows there is a lot of tennis to be played, including aiming for the first sectional title in boys in 12 years at Loogootee.
"That is hard to answer. We have some tough opponents left. I just don't know about that," he said. "If we continue improving, we have a chance of being a great team.
"But we have a lot to work on just yet. To be honest, I don't want the them to know how good they are."
A year ago, three of Bloomfield's four losses came at the hands of North Daviess, including one a 4-1 setback to the Cougars in the championship match of the Loogootee Sectional.
Since last winning a sectional title, Bloomfield has lost nine times in the sectional final (eight to Loogootee). The other two years they fell in the semifinals.
The Cards, who also won boys sectional titles in 1992 and 1995, already own victories over North Daviess, Barr-Reeve and Loogootee, who had won 11 straight sectional titles before North Daviess prevailed last season. BHS has handled all three teams easily.
With a line-up of Derek Corn (12-0), Joel Oliphant (9-4) and Curtis Hasler (9-2) at singles and Holden Hamm and Austin Schulte (12-0) at No. 1 doubles and Jacob Chestnut and Andy Cochrane (8-2) at No. 2 doubles, the Cardinals would have to be considered the favorite at Loogootee.
With wins over White River Valley on Monday, Corn became the winningest singles player in the history of BHS boys tennis. He now has 54 victories, passing Willy Scott, who had 53 wins in his career that ended in 2008.
With his next victory, Corn will pass Scott, who has 55 total victories (singles and doubles combined).
Hamm, who had a 14-7 record as a junior, has 42 doubles victories, which is one more than Corey Sparks had in his career.
"I think that everybody is playing really well right now," said Canty. "They have all settled into some different styles.
"Joel was intent on playing like a No. 1 singles player, hammering the ball all the time. But he has settled down and has started to become a counter puncher. He is still hitting the ball hard, but not on every shot."
He added that Corn has just continued to play like he has during his career and that Hamm also has carried over his play from 2008.
Canty also said that the No. 1 doubles team has been fantastic.
"They are really covering a lot of court," he said.
Cochrane, who formerly ran cross country, has made a big impact as a first-year player.
"Every time I look at Andy I say where have you been for four years," said Canty. "I tell him, "For a freshman, you are doing great.'
"I have had seniors come in and play varsity before, but none have played a role as prominant as him. He has improved so much since the first day of practice."
The pairings for the sectional will be announced Monday, Sept. 28. The tournament at Loogootee, which also features White River Valley, will begin Thursday Oct. 1 and conclude Saturday, Oct. 3.
Will a sectional championship be in the immediate future for the Cardinals? Only time will tell. Best of luck to the BHS netters.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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