Plopped upon sophomore Jason Denton's racket were the careers of six seniors, the first regional boys tennis championship for his school in 20 years, and the biggest coaching victory of his own father's life. Swinging away with all that added weight, Denton's unflinching demeanor went ... undented. "It was a little extra pressure, I guess, but I didn't think much about it," the sleepy-voiced
DUNLAP -- Plopped upon sophomore Jason Denton's racket were the careers of six seniors, the first regional boys tennis championship for his school in 20 years, and the biggest coaching victory of his own father's life.
Swinging away with all that added weight, Denton's unflinching demeanor went ... undented.
"It was a little extra pressure, I guess, but I didn't think much about it," the sleepy-voiced Denton said after finishing off host Concord's 3-2 title round victory over East Noble with a three-set No. 3 singles win Wednesday. "Mostly, I just thought about our team going farther (in the tournament)."
Ironically, Jason's decidedly more seasoned, look-alike dad wasn't quite as cool on the inside as his son.
"With Jason, I do think more as a dad," Todd Denton admitted after coaching the Minutemen to Concord's first regional title since 1989. "The rest of the team, I can watch them play and it's not a problem, but I get into every one of his points, so it became tough. I'm so darn proud of him right now."
The Minutemen (18-1) -- playing their second match of the evening after beating Jimtown 5-0 in the semifinals -- advanced to Saturday's South Bend Semistate at Leeper Park. They'll face Penn -- which dealt Concord its lone regular season loss, 3-2 -- or Culver Academy.
Matt Schoeffler and Jared Queener won by their second 6-0, 6-1 score of the day at No. 1 doubles, and Mike Ciesielski and Cory Swaller -- who played three tiebreakers on the day -- won at No. 2 doubles for Concord's first two points against East Noble.
Denton, the lone underclassman in a lineup of six seniors, improved to 25-0 on the season a mere year after winning just two matches at No. 2 singles for Memorial.
"He said after last season that he wanted to start taking lessons and improving, and he followed through," Todd Denton said. "He did the nine-week summer academy at Eastlake (Athletic Club), played every weekend but one over the summer. He played in a number of tournaments and it's paying off."
"He's been coaching me all year, and that helps," Jason said of his father.
Jason downed the Knights' Nick Ihrie 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
"He tried to do a little too much the second set," Todd said of Jason, "but he slowed it down a bit the third set, was more patient, got his feet back under him and played the way he has all year long."
East Noble handily notched its points at the top two singles spots, with senior Derek Romer improving to 25-2 at No. 1 and junior Kyle Johnson improving to 26-1 at No. 2.
The Knights (14-4) were coached by none other than Doug Desper, the last man to coach Concord to a regional title.
The Minutemen's 5-0 count against the Jimmies was a bit deceiving. Four of the five matches were tight most of the way.
Jimtown was coming off its first-ever sectional title two days earlier.
"There's no disappointment in what we did for the year. As far as what we did today, I thought we were pretty competitive," Jimmies coach Steve Fledderman said. "The kids came over here, and in their hearts, wanted to be successful."
"Jimtown's very athletic and they pushed us to the limit every point," Todd Denton said. "They run down every ball and make you play another. They pushed us, but I thought our guys handled it well."
Led by Matt Candler and his 17-4 mark at No. 1 singles, the Jims and their all-senior lineup closed at 16-6.
East Noble topped Warsaw 3-2 in the other semifinal.
Northridge junior Nick Myers cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Howe Military's Baihan Yang in individual tourney singles play, while Fairfield's Josh Beck and Derick Troeger were narrowly eliminated -- 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 -- by an undefeated Churubusco duo in doubles.
The Eagles' Ryan Mey and Alex McDowell improved to 19-0 with their win. Beck and Troeger closed their senior seasons at 18-5, with three of the losses to Northeast Corner Conference rivals Mey and McDowell.
Myers (21-2) faces Romer for the individual sectional title in singles, while Mey and McDowell take on Warsaw's Andrew Cutshall and Shawn Carmichael for the doubles crown, both matches scheduled for 5 p.m. today at Concord.
If the matches are rained out, they will be played at 5 p.m. Friday at Concord or, if raining again, at Eastlake.