Panthers prep for HCAC Tournament

Landon Carrico

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College men's tennis team travels to Indianapolis this weekend to compete in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.

SETTING THE SCENE: The Panthers (9-6), who earned the tournament's No. 3 seed after a 6-1 conference campaign, open play against No. 6 Anderson at 4 p.m., Friday, May 3. The winner will then take on No. 2 Earlham in the semifinal round at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 4. The tournament championship match is set for 10 a.m., Sunday, May 5, at West Indy Racquet Club, the site of the entire postseason tournament.

CONFERENCE COMPETITION: Rose-Hulman and Earlham received the first round byes after compiling a combined 13-1 record this spring. The Fightin' Engineers (11-9) won their fifth straight HCAC regular season title after going 6-0 and enter this weekend with 45 consecutive wins over conference opponents. The Quakers (16-7) went 7-1 in league play.

Joining Hanover in the opening round are No. 4 Transylvania (9-11, 5-3 HCAC), No. 5 Franklin (7-10, 4-4 HCAC) and No. 6 Anderson (3-8, 3-5 HCAC). The Blue and Red's lone HCAC loss came to Earlham. However, HC defeated the bottom three teams in the field by a combined score of 23-4.

HCAC TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Hanover has found recent success in the HCAC Tournament, advancing to the semifinal round in each of the past three years. During three opening round victories, HC has outscored its opponents 15-4. The Panthers though, have never won the HCAC Tournament in its current dual match format, only advancing to the finals in the format's inaugural year, 2007. Hanover's last HCAC title came in 2000.

SHOWERING WITH WINS IN APRIL: The Panthers will enter postseason play and the month of May riding a seven-match winning streak, an identical stretch to what they entered the 2018 HCAC Tournament with. Hanover won its last four regular season matches in 2017 as well. In their recent winning streak, the Blue and Red have won six by shutout, including each of their last five appearances. Overall, HC has outscored its opponents by a combined count of 57-4.

SPECTACULAR SINGLES: The Blue and Red have been strong in singles play all season long, including in HCAC play, which has seen them win 85.7 percent of their matches at 36-6. Junior Landon Carrico (New Albany, Ind.) was a perfect 7-0 in league play and is 11-3 overall. Carrico enters Friday riding a team-high nine-match winning streak.

Overall, HC has eight players with a current singles winning streak of three or higher. Sophomore Jed Fajt (Greencastle, Ind.) was 6-1 in conference play, as he brings a seven-match win streak into this weekend. Freshman Keith Asplund (Jeffersonville, Ind.) has won five straight appearances and went 4-1 in league competition. Sophomore Roger Trombley (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) joins Carrico with an unblemished conference mark after going 4-0. The sophomore is one of three Panther players with a four-match winning streak.

DOMINATING DOUBLES: Hanover has settled on a trio of doubles groups over the course of the current winning streak, as all three pairs have won at least four straight prior to Friday's match. Asplund and classmate Pablo Gallart (Serra, Spain) enter winners of six consecutive outings and are 7-2 at No. 3 this season. Trombley and freshman Connor Garrison (Louisville, Ky.) are 6-2 overall, 5-2 in the HCAC, having won five straight. The combo of Carrico and junior Jonathan Helmers (Cincinnati, Ohio) have won four straight and are 5-3 in 2018-19.

Contact: Tyler Jester