UPDATE – TENNIS INDIVIDUAL STATE FINALS SCHEDULE:
MHS’s Riley Worland will face Patrick Fletchall of Carmel in Match 1 of the singles quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at Park Tudor, 7200 N. College Ave., Indianapolis. Admission is $5.
> For more information on the state finals matches,click here.
Marion has a long line of outstanding boys’ tennis players, but junior Riley Worland separated himself from the rest Saturday afternoon.
Worland advanced to the IHSAA boys’ tennis individual singles state finals after winning the regional championship at Kokomo High School, and in the process became the first Giant to accomplish the feat. The individual singles state tournament was started in 1980.
In the finals, Worland defeated Nick May of Huntington North 6-1, 6-1 after battling back in the semifinals for a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Pranav Haran of Western. Worland trailed 3-2 in the third set against Haran before winning the last four games and claim the match.
“It’s unreal,” Worland said. “To play for such a prestigious high school and to be the first one to do it is amazing for me.”
Marion has advanced boys’ doubles teams to the state finals, most recently Daniel Harrold and Amogh Sehgal in 2012. The Giants girls’ teams had individuals participate in both the singles and doubles state finals.
Worland placed himself above his cousin Brandon Dubuque, who won 99 matches for the Giants, and all-time greats such as Jay Smithley and Tony Bove by qualifying for the individual state finals.
“Think about all the great teams and players Marion’s had over the years and that’s pretty amazing,” Marion coach Doug Porter said of Worland’s achievement.
Worland said he was confident about his chances of winning the regional title. He had defeated both Haran and May before in middle school matches and counts May among his close friends.
But after dominating the first set against Haran, Porter said gusting winds became an issue and Worland struggled to make the adjustment. He fell behind early in the second set and could never quite catch up, pulling to within 5-4 before Haran won the next game and split sets.
“Haran got more aggressive in the second set,” Porter said. “In the third set Haran was up 3-2 and Riley pulled it together and won the last four games. Riley just wore him down. The wind affected everything and Riley handled it well in the third set.”
“I lost my mojo for a while, but I regained my focus in the third set and pulled it out,” Worland said.
Porter said Worland was in complete command throughout the match with May and lost just two games. With Saturday’s wins Worland takes a 22-4 record into the state finals.
Regionals were played at four sites around Indiana, and eligible No. 1 singles players from teams which lost in the team semistate and state tournaments will be added to the field. Porter said the field likely won’t be set until Monday but expects eight or nine players will qualify.