Five minutes to spare.
That is how close Patrick Wilson ’18 (Key Biscayne, Florida) came to missing his date with destiny Saturday afternoon.
Wilson provided the winning point for the Culver Military Academy tennis team’s 3-2 win over Penn in the semi-state tournament. Played at the Gable Tennis Complex, Wilson took the Scholastic Aptitude Test at the Roberts Hall of Science that morning before coming over for the tournament match at noon.
Coach Alan Loehr had turned in the starting lineup with Wilson playing in the No. 3 singles position. Wilson arrived with less than five minutes to warm up before his match with Aidan Scharetza of Penn. He lost the first set, 2-6.
He came back to win the second set, 7-6, with a dramatic 7-5 tiebreaker. Then he captured the third set – the last set of the day – 6-2 to clinch the victory for the Eagles and send them to the state tournament on Friday.
“We would have had to forfeit that match if he didn’t show up in time,” Loehr said.
“It was a crazy day,” Wilson said, who finished the SAT at 11:50 a.m. and arrived at the courts still in his Duty A uniform. He got a ride from Academic Affairs assistant Sandy Dodson to make it in time. “I was super-tired and hungry. I wasn’t comfortable at all (during the first set). I don’t know how I managed to pull it off.”
I knew it was all coming down to my match.
Wilson said he felt the momentum start to shift late in the second set. “That’s when I said, ‘You can do this.’” After winning the tie-breaker, he was confident. “All my friends were here cheering me on.”
Still, he was nervous, knowing that a trip to the state tournament weighed on his shoulders. “We were at 2-2. I knew it was all coming down to my match.”
Winning the other two points for CMA were No. 1 doubles team Henry Bilicic ’19 (Chicago) and Jose Santiago-Peraza ’18 (Mermosillo, Mexico), 6-1, 6-2; and No. 2 singles Nikolas Warnholtz ’19 (Lerma, Mexico), 7-6 (8-6), 6-1. No. 1 singles Ian Smith ’18 (Bloomington, Indiana) and No. 2 doubles Vincent Huang ’19 (Nantong Jiangsu, China) and Peter Gallagher ’19 (Northfield, Illinois) each went three sets before dropping their individual matches.
The Eagles (20-2) will now face Terre Haute North (22-3) in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The match will be played at Center Grove High School, 2717 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood, Indiana. The semifinals and championship matches will be played Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, at Indianapolis North Central High School.
This was the Eagles’ eighth semi-state championship overall and the third in the past four years.