The outcome was almost anti-climactic to everybody but the winning coach.
No. 4-ranked Canterbury beat Homestead 4-1 on Thursday night on the Spartans' Jimmy Clark Community Tennis Center to win the sectional title for the fourth year in a row. The Cavaliers players can't ever remember losing a sectional title, but coach Jerry Gerig will never forget the 31 years before that when the Spartans won every year.
"I told them after the match, this is special,'' Gerig said. "Sometimes it may seem like this is supposed to happen every year, but winning a sectional is special. Enjoy it and appreciate this.''
The Spartans played well, but the Cavaliers, 17-1, are just too good and too deep. They can win big points at every position, led by seniors Davis Huber, Clay Hoffacker and Chris Yahanda. They might be balanced enough to challenge for a state title with a few breaks.
"It's awesome because you can rely on your other teammates and the pressure is not on me,'' Hoffacker said. "It's dispersed throughout the team.''
It kind of had to be, because injuries forced Gerig to constantly shuffle his lineup for the second year in a row. Hoffacker just came back after missing 14 matches with a pulled stomach muscle. The No. 1 doubles team of Yahanda and Chad Schouweiler played only one match together before the state tournament.
Every player has just about played in every position, facing great competition in big matches. They didn't always know where they were going to play in the lineup, but that didn't determine how well they could play as individuals.
"Show up for the match and win, that's our motto,'' Huber said with a grin. "It allows us to be one of the top teams in the state, and every day during practice we get to play with kids who are the same caliber as us.''
During the last four years, the Cavaliers have won 83 matches and lost only five, all against teams ranked in the state's top four. Huber is 87-11, Yahanda is 83-12 and Hoffacker is 68-13 during that span.
"Four years ago we were all freshmen trying to win a sectional for the first time in school history,'' Yahanda said. "We were all nervous, and now it's old hat, I guess because we've been here so many times. It helps with nerves.''
Now, the Cavaliers are causing everyone else to be nervous.
"They have real 1-2-3 singles punch,'' Homestead coach Jim Shull said. "They are legit down the singles lineup. (Junior Tom) Filus may be the best No. 3 in the state period, and I've seen most of them. We threw at them everything we could, and they deserve to be where they are.''
Filus has the best record on the team at 22-1.
Canterbury advances to Tuesday's Carroll Regional where the Cavaliers will play the Concordia Sectional winner. Bishop Dwenger plays New Haven on Friday for that title. Carroll and Leo will play for the Carroll Sectional title and the chance to face the Norwell Sectional winner in the other regional semifinal.