Editors note: In the original posting of the article, Zionsville tennis player Cole Chappell’s last name was misspelled
The Carmel High School boys tennis team had already clinched its record sixth consecutive IHSAA state championship by winning four of the first five matches in 63 minutes or less. Even though Broc Fletcher was cramping badly and had already been eliminated from the singles tournament with a previous postseason loss, there was no way the Carmel senior was going to retire in the Oct. 16 team state final against Zionsville.
Despite the leg cramps, Fletcher defeated Zionsville’s Cole Chappell 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 at No. 1 singles to give the top-ranked Greyhounds a 5-0 victory against No. 5 Zionsville on CHS’s home courts.
“I basically told myself that if I end up in a hospital, it’s worth it,” Fletcher said. “I have to fight for every point. This team has meant so much to me. It’s my last high school match and it was just an unbelievable moment for me.”
Carmel coach Bryan Hanan told Fletcher the match was clinched, and he could retire if the cramping was too bad. Fletcher insisted he wanted to finish, even though the Greyhounds had already won enough matches to secure the team win.
“That’s the kid he always is,” said Hanan, whose team completed a 24-0 season. “He’s got no quit in him. I can always count on him. For him to go out with a win is amazing.”
Fletcher lost to North Central’s Alex Antonopolous in a three-setter Oct. 15 as the Greyhounds topped North Central in the quarterfinals. Then in the Oct. 16 morning semifinals, he rallied to beat Columbus North’s Nathan Lin 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Carmel’s 5-0 victory over the No. 2 Bull Dogs. Fletcher was the last Carmel player to finish, and the championship started two hours later.
“I never used an under-handed serve before,” said Fletcher, who had a 26-3 record. “But the moment came where I couldn’t push off my real serve on my legs. I just decided if I want to keep playing, I’ve got to do this. I actually did it pretty well. I know it’s a tough situation when the other person is injured. At the same time, you still go out and play. I just had to fight for every point to the best of my ability.”
Greyhounds senior Eli Mercer said he knew Fletcher would pull it out.
“I’m so proud of him,” said Mercer, who finished with a 27-3 mark at No. 2 singles.
Carmel’s six consecutive state titles broke the record the Greyhounds had shared with arch-rival North Central, whose run was from 1982 to 1986.
“I’m so glad to be part of something this special and to be fortunate to be graduating in that sixth year,” Mercer said. “Everyone on this team deserves this. I love everyone on this team.”
Hanan said the Greynounds wanted the record.
“We’ve been talking about it for two years,” he said.
Other winners in the semifinals and championship for the Greyhounds were freshman Rocky Li, No. 3 singles; junior Jack Jentz and senior Srisanth Malpeddi, No. 1 doubles; and sophomore Braedon McIntyre and senior Adrien Qi, No. 2 doubles. Jentz and Malpeddi were unbeaten heading into the state doubles quarterfinals, which are set to begin Oct. 22. Li finished 27-1 and the No. 2 doubles team was 19-0.
Fletcher, Mercer and Malpeddi were all freshmen during Hanan’s first year as head coach. He previously had been an assistant under Spencer Fields for two years.
“To have three freshmen contribute like that, I thought we’d be strong for a little while,” Hanan said. “Our seniors will definitely be missed.”
This was the first time since the 1972-73 season the state team semifinals and championship were not held at the North Central courts, as the IHSAA determined the courts needed repair.