Derek Carpenter and Hunter Schouweiler are best friends off the tennis court and practically twins on it. They both try knocking the air out of the ball and their opponents with hammering forehands and blistering backhands – even when they are playing doubles together.
They know each other so well that they never play their best against each other, and Carpenter usually wins. After losing to Schouweiler twice during his freshman year, Carpenter won the 2007 IHSAA state title and the City Tennis Tournament men's singles titles in 2006 and 2007. During his high school career at South Side, he thumb-tacked a story over his bed about Schouweiler's determination so he'd see it each night.
Thursday night, it was Schouweiler's turn to get the best of his buddy, as the No. 3 seed beat the No. 2 seed 6-3, 6-4 in the city tournament semifinals. Schouweiler, a junior at DePauw, will play eight-time city champion and No. 1 seed Ryan Recht during Monday's 5:30 p.m. finals at Swinney Tennis Center. Recht, a Wildwood Racquet Club pro and former Homestead and Indiana star, beat No. 5 Weston Young 6-3, 6-1.
“He probably beats me three or four out of five times,” Schouweiler said of Carpenter, a Ball State sophomore.
“I just tried something a little different. I know I can't outhit him so I just tried to roll everything deep. I know sometimes he tries to go for a little too much and gets impatient, so I tried to make him play that.”
Schouweiler built a 5-1 first-set lead before Carpenter got his game going. Carpenter led the second set 3-2 but lost his serve to fall behind 4-3.
“One of us could not play tennis for six months and the other one could play every day and I'm pretty sure it would still be close,” Carpenter said. “He knows my game too well and I know his. He knew I wasn't playing well and he took advantage of it.”
Schouweiler said he and Carpenter have played five times over the last three weeks.
“We know each other's games so well that we get frustrated because we know what we should be doing,” Schouweiler said.
Last year, Carpenter won the semifinal match 6-4, 6-4, and Schouweiler came back the following Monday to help him prepare for the finals match against Recht. Recht won 6-1, 6-1 to end Carpenter's two-year title streak. Carpenter will be back Monday, this time to help Schouweiler prepare.
Recht, 27, has never lost a set or a match in the City Tennis Tournament. He's attempting to break a tie with Les Ortleib for most men's singles titles with his ninth. He could tie Lee Ann Berning's record for most singles titles with nine.
His sister, Amy Recht, will try to set her own record with her fifth straight women's city singles title. She beat Woodside Middle School phenom Hanita Epstein 6-0, 6-0 during Thursday's semifinals, while IPFW assistant coach Monica Purice defeated Concordia Lutheran star Margaret Fritz 6-0, 6-1. Veda Stevens also won four women's titles from 1929 to 1932.