Troy freshman Kyle Penny wins D-I sectional singles title; Burns, Nichols advance in doubles


TROY — The Troy boys tennis team is a young squad with no seniors in the starting lineup.

And Troy coach Mark Goldman continued to seem them progress in the D-I sectional semifinals and finals Friday at Troy High School.

Kyle Penny finished off a rare accomplishment, winning the D-I sectional sectional tennis title as a freshman, while sophomore Kellan Nichols and junior Michael Burns earned their second straight trip to the district tournament with a third-place finish in singles.

They will play in the district tournament beginning Thursday at Mason Middle School.

“They all did a great job,” Goldner said.

After advancing to the title match in singles with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Deacon Blake, the top seeded Penny faced second seed Alex Darner of Tippecanoe.

In an epic battle that did not disappoint, Penny outlasted Darner 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“It was definitely a goal,” Penny said about winning the sectional title as a freshman.

And he was forced to show maturity beyond his years to win the title.

Penny had led the first set 4-1 and was up 6-5 and serving for the first set before a determined Darner rallied.

“I never expected to lose that set,” Penny said. “That was tough.”

But, he responded like a champion to win the final two sets and stave off several match points against him in the third set.

“I am so proud of Kyle (Penny),” Goldman said. “To lose that first set like that and come back and get the win. “It really was a match that could have gone either way. He was down (2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4) in third set, then he went up 6-5. And then he won it in a tiebreak.”

Penny can’t wait for district.

“I wouldn’t say I am confident,” he said. “But, I am looking forward to it.”

Goldman knows what district is all about.

“It is tough, but you just have to hope you get a good draw,” he said.

Nichols and Burns had lost in the semifinals t0 Grant Vonderheide and Roman List of Tippecanoe, the second seeds 6-3, 6-4.

But, Goldman saw a much different reaction than last year when they lost in the same round at sectionals.

“Last year, they just kind of put their heads down,” he said. “This year, they were in the match. It was 6-3, 6-4. They had some opportunities to do some things.”

The players agreed.

“I think we are (more comfortable with another year’s experience),” Nichols said about the duo that plays second and third singles during the season.”

And playing together is nothing new.

“We have played together a lot and we are on the same team in league at Schroeder’s,” Burns said.

The duo rebounded in the third-place match, topping Butler 7-5, 6-2.

“I just think we were more aggressive the second set and started taking it at them,” Burns said. “I felt like we played well today.”

As they and Penny extended their seasons for another week.

Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]

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