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Peru advances to CMA Regional final

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RALLY SHOES: Ben Beckman and No. 2 doubles partner Gabe Baker fell into early holes in both of their sets against Warsaw's Cole Rhodes and Carter Schuh Tuesday at the IHSAA Culver Military Academy Boys' Tennis Regional but rallied back each time to pick up a 7-5, 6-4 win as the Bengal Tigers defeated their black and orange counterparts 5-0.
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CURTAIN CALL: Maconaquah's Cole Borden went nearly three hours in his final meeting with Wabash's Rob Ford Tuesday night in the IHSAA Culver Military Academy Boys' Tennis Individual Tournament but, having won all their previous meetings, Borden could not find the last victory in the series as Ford scaled new heights to win 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5).
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SWEEPERS: Peru's Leif Astrup picked up the first point of the IHSAA Culver Military Academy Boys' Tennis Regional match against Warsaw Tuesday night, defeating Trey Williams 6-1, 6-3, to get the Bengal Tigers up and running against their black and orange counterparts. Peru would win four matches in straight-sets and complete a clean sweep over Warsaw 5-0.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

CULVER – The contrast of emotions Tuesday night at Culver Military Academy’s Gable Tennis Complex were stark and deep.

On the north courts, Peru continued its motoring run in postseason play, taking down Warsaw 5-0 to advance to the IHSAA Culver Military Academy Boys’ Tennis Regional final.

Off to the side on the sixth south court, Maconaquah’s Cole Borden and Rob Ford were battling one last time with advancement in the IHSAA Culver Military Academy Boys’ Tennis Individual Sectional on the line.

Borden had won each previous encounter with Ford until Tuesday when the Apache senior finally made the breakthrough, knocking off the Braves senior in a match worthy of their final meeting in high school 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5).

The opening point of the evening for Peru came from Leif Astrup at No. 2 singles, who defeated Trey Williams 6-2, 6-2.

Not long after Christopher Dicken and Greysen Spohn added the second point with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 1 doubles.

Advancement to the final was secured a few minutes later when Brad Ryan closed out his match at No. 3 singles with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Hayden Anderson.

Gabe Baker and Ben Beckman played a prolonged two-set match at No. 2 doubles, each time falling into a hole against Cole Rhodes and Carter Schuh before digging themselves out to win 7-5, 6-4.

The only three-set match in the series was contested between Ryan Smith and Caleb Williams at No. 1 singles.

Smith started out hot, taking the opening set 6-2, before Williams answered back with a 6-3 win in the second set.

After a break, Smith settled back into his first set rhythm, taking the third set 6-2 to not only complete the sweep but pick up his first win in the postseason.

With the win, Peru advances to the regional final where the squad will face Culver Military Academy, the only team to have bettered the Tigers this season after the hosts downed Bremen 4-1.

While the team matches were decided there was a high drama playing out on the side court as the top-two TRC players were about to enter the final act of their three-year series.

Both Borden and Ford began with a touch of nervous energy that sent errant shots flying around the court and an early trade of games left Ford leading 3-2 in the opening set.

The Apaches senior settled in quicker, coming to grips with the match and was able to win three of the next four games to take the opening set 6-3.

Again the two players traded off the early games before Borden settled into a rhythm, breaking Ford as part of a three-set run to win the second set 6-2 and set up a nail-biting final set.

Ford struck first with the serve to move ahead 1-0 and followed by breaking Borden’s serve to take a 2-0 lead in the set.

Borden replied by breaking serve back and polished off the fourth game in short order to level the set at 2-2.

Ford missed one game point in the following round but took care of the second to move back in front 3-2.

In the most hotly-contested game, Borden started by fending off break point, only to miss three-straight chances to close out the game and Ford earned a second break point.

Borden dropped in an ace and fending off a third break point at the net but followed by missing three more chances to close out the game, eventually hitting wide on the fourth break point to reestablish a two-game lead for Ford.

Immediately Borden broke the serve back without dropping a point and, with daylight fading the two competitors were moved from the side court they had been dueling on for over two hours by that point to the main court under the lights.

Ford managed to evade one break point at 4-3, he could not do it a second time and the match was once again deadlocked at 4-4.

Facing three break points in the next game, Ford rallied back by taking the next five points to move ahead 5-4 and had match point in the following game.

Borden stiffened up, working off the break before nailing down two net winners to draw the match level at 5-5.

Ford hit into the net twice and Borden capitalized with a winner at the net to move ahead for the first time in the final set 6-5.

With the match on the line, Ford forced two break points with Borden able to land a lob in the back corner to evade one but not the other as Ford ripped a cross-court forehand winner to level the match at 6-6, leading to a tiebreaker to separate the two players.

Borden struggled early, topping a shot at the net, followed by a forehand wide and a shot into the net to give Ford a 3-0 advantage.

Steadying once again, Borden dropped a smash at the net before Ford hit into the net and could not return a deep shot, leveling the tiebreak at 3-3.

Ford charged the net on the next point but was backed off by Borden, allowing the Brave senior to land an overhead winner to take the lead himself.

The roles reversed in the next point with Ford backing Borden off and getting the overhand winner.

Borden missed long but leveled the tiebreak one last time at 5-5 with a forehand winner.

Ford kept his returns concise and Borden could not do the same, running a shot wide to nudge the Apache senior back in front and, on match point, Borden struck into the net as Ford finally claimed the win which had eluded him.

Borden finishes the year with a 20-1 record and a 2-1 mark in postseason play, completing a career in which he won two individual sectional titles while maintaining an undefeated record in TRC matches across his career, all played at No. 1 singles.