MICHIGAN CITY — Never lose to Marquette.
When Norm Bruemmer was coach at Michigan City, it was a point that then-assistant Mike Tsugawa always remembered him making with emphasis.
"With all due respect, I absolutely hate losing to Marquette," Tsugawa said. "It used to be a coach Bruemmer rule."
The pupil heeded the mentor, who was on hand for Wednesday's match at the Elston Courts to see the Wolves down the Blazers 4-1.
"I respect all the programs we play, but I don't think as far ahead when we're playing (anyone else)," Tsugawa said. "Marquette is a name that gets everybody's attention. Nobody says, who's that? Nobody says, where's that going to be? The players mutually know the players from the other team in some fashion. When the coach is Earl Cunningham, you definitely make sure we're putting it out there. He's coached everything, practically every team in almost every sport. He got me started in this job. I respect him. I know his team's going to be well-prepared. On top of that, they're a sectional opponent. We very well could see them three times. City pride being one thing, strategically, it's important."
The Wolves won in straight sets at two and three singles and two doubles, rallying at one to win in a third-set pro set at one doubles.
"We would've had to play almost perfectly to get 3-2, but we knew we had a chance to do that," Cunningham said. "I'm proud of the way the kids competed. All I can ask them to do is go out and get better every day. I was very impressed with how well Mike's team played. I think he has a nice, young nucleus. I wish I could get some young kids out. That's our downfall right now."
Josiah Miller and Dante Morland were first off the court with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Noah Wadle and Colin Thompson at two doubles and Kyle Yakus followed in short order with a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Riggs Bardol at three. After Sean Bardol got the Blazers on the board, 6-4, 6-2 over Ryan Cuma at one, Connor Reynolds clinched the outcome, 6-4, 6-2, against Cormack Bardol at two.
"All three singles players have very good strokes. The Bardol boys all hit the ball well. They're good athletes," Tsugawa said. "The wind certainly helped us at the two, three spots. We played low error, high percentage. I know if we try to hit as hard as they do, we lose. Sean's a very nice player. He's got all the shots. He started playing very intelligently. Ryan's going to have to learn from those matches. There are no easy ones at No. 1 singles."
Reynolds followed Tsugawa's formula in his win, a repeat of last year's matchup at three singles.
"When the wind's blowing cross court, it's different than at your back or coming at you," Reynolds said. "It was just keeping the ball in. I played a nice, slow-paced games, just keep a consistent, nice swing, make the other guy make the mistakes."
Lucas White and John Bruning were down 4-6, 1-3 to Brendan Mack and Aidan McDonnell, only to rally to take the second set 6-4, then won the 10-point pro set 10-4 with strong play at the net
"Those same two cliched in an identical situation last week, 2-2, coming back to win a second they set probably didn't have any business winning," Tsugawa said. "I don't know if they knew the match was in the bag, but they probably did."
The match wasn't the first time Tsugawa and Cunningham had met as opposing coaches. They also did so when Cunningham, a City assistant when Tsugawa first came to the school, was at La Lumiere.
"It's always fun," Cunningham said. "I know the Marquette-Michigan City kids, the parents. Pat Reynolds, I've known him for 50 years. I pretty much knew everybody here and have known most of them for a long time. It's not a bitter rivalry. It's a fun rivalry. That's the way it should be for intra-city rivals."
Both teams are 2-1 after the outcome.
"Michigan City and Marquette have always been big rivals. To take the win was really exciting for all of us," Reynolds said. "They're definitely going to build, so they'll be a tough opponent if we play them in the sectional. We'll have to think of strategies to beat them the next time. We thought we were going to be a rebuilding team, so (to win the last two matches) we're all really excited."