A celebration that was 30 years in the making took place on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, as Delta athletic director Tilmon Clark honored the 30 consecutive boys’ tennis sectional winning teams at halftime of a varsity basketball game.
More than 50 former varsity players and assistant coaches came back for the event to celebrate with head coach Tim Cleland and teammates. All 30 championship teams were represented by at least one player. The teams received prolonged applause as they were introduced and spread out across the basketball court at halftime of the New Palestine game.
Many players traveled long distances to come back for the event. Bryce Bow, who now teaches at Indiana University, was part of the No. 1 doubles team in 2004 when the Eagles placed third as a team at the IHSAA State Finals. He and Drew DeHaven knocked off No. 1 Carmel at the first doubles spot. Bow flew in from Florida for the ceremony.
In an impromptu speech to former players and family members who were gathered in the classroom area near the new multi-million dollar fitness center, Bow discussed how an invitation to the Tim Cleland Tennis Camp as a middle school student started him on his path. He later joined the tennis team as a freshman because some of his friends were playing. He began in “The Woods,” the affectionate nickname for courts 6 and 7 where many young players start building their skills.
Over time, he progressed to varsity tennis and then as a senior pulled off the huge victory at state over Carmel. The team finished third at state that year after beating Terre Haute North in the consolation match. Bow praised the “passion and energy” that was palpable at the 30-year celebration and mentioned that he still refers to life lessons such as “Build a Dream and Let the Dream Build You” and the Johnny Wooden “Pyramid of Success” in his business classes at IU.
Another player, Dr. Alex Wagner, drove in from South Carolina with his wife, former DHS Tennis player and assistant coach Taylor (Cardini) Wagner. Alex played No. 2 varsity doubles on another great Eagle team, the 2007 team that narrowly lost 3-2 to top-ranked and eventual state champion North Central in a regular-season match on the Panthers’ courts.
Bradley Wuthrich, a standout singles player on the 2011, 2012 and 2013 teams, drove in from Traverse City, Mich., where he works as a pharmacist. Wuthrich was the IHSAA State Mental Attitude Award winner as a senior when the Eagles reached the Team State Finals for one of five times in school history.
Paul McKinney, a terrific singles and doubles player on the 2002 through 2004 varsity teams, now works in Washington, D.C., in the State Department. He attended the celebration also and reunited with many teammates.
Also in attendance was all-time victory leader Zach Ervin, who won 101 matches in a four-year All-State singles career for the Eagles from 2004 through 2007. He went on to play four years at Butler University and remains in Indianapolis, where he serves as assistant principal at Perry Meridian High School.
Other all-time varsity victory leaders who were able to attend the party included Jason Wegener (93 wins), Kelly Robbins (91), Tannon Dishman (78), Brandon Jackson (78), Paul McKinney (74), Rob Robbins (72), Alec Robillard (69), Tanner Southerland (69), J.D. Greenlee (64), Nathan Calvert (63), Bradley Wuthrich (62), Walker Boyle (58), Greg Kile (57), Mason Knight (55), Josh Chambers (55), Josh Cooper (54), Joe Wegener (49), Tate Dishman (49), Joseph Taylor (47), and Bryce Bow (47). In addition, parents or grandparents attended on behalf of the following ex-players: Nick Wilson (86), Andy Rector (75), Ethan Grove (75), Daniel Jackson (72), Matt McKinney (64) and Jordan Chambers (53).
Four members of the varsity team in 1993 returned for the celebration.
Tommy Rector, Clayton Westerfeld, Matt Kolb and Jeremiah Cooper were varsity players who started the 30-year streak. Each of them played varsity on both the 1993 and 1994 teams. This was the fourth and fifth seasons for Coach Tim Cleland, who was 30 years old in 1993.
One team had every varsity player in attendance at the celebration. The 2019 team was represented fully by singles players Tanner Southerland, Brandon Jackson and Daniel Vencel and the doubles teams of Mason Knight/Cade Brown and Walker Boyle/Jaigen Glaze.
Greg Kile, who is the current superintendent for Del-Com Schools, was a varsity doubles player on the 1995, 1996 and 1997 teams. He also was in attendance.
Several former assistant coaches joined the party. Craig Vickery, who helped coach for several years in the mid-2000s, now lives in the Toledo, Ohio, area. He made a big effort to drive in from Zanesville, Ohio, at the conclusion of a work training event and made it just in time for the halftime celebration. Other assistants there included Tyson Mathews, Joy Wegener, Steve Slavin, Josh Cooper, Rob Robbins Sr., and current assistant Tate Dishman. Cooper and Dishman also were all-state varsity doubles players on several of the winning sectional teams.
Nathan Calvert and Rob Robbins, who played together on the 1995, 1996 and 1997 regional champion teams, enjoyed a special moment when they contacted 1996 teammate Arnd Viehofer by video call. Viehofer, now a doctor in Switzerland, was an exchange student at No. 2 singles on the 1996 team. He stayed up till midnight in Switzerland to join the party by video call.
One father-son combination were varsity players at different parts of the streak and both were in attendance. David Bratton played No. 2 varsity doubles on the 2000 team and Riley Bratton played No. 1 varsity doubles on the 2022 team.
Another pair of relatives who were part of the streak were Dr. J.D. Greenlee, a star on the 2002, 2003 and 2004 teams, and his nephew Josef Zacek, a varsity singles player on the 2020 team.
Special thanks to 2002 varsity doubles star Alan Robinson for providing numerous Pizza King pizzas for the party. Jeanne Cleland’s peanut butter fudge, of course, was a highlight, along with cookies from Sandy Manor. Thanks also to Amy Vest for organizing a group of parents and current players to work the check-in desk and provide building tours for some of the returning players. Thanks also to Tim Root and Eleni Bow for taking many wonderful photos. Returning players received a free 30-Love sectional champion t-shirt.
Attendees by year:
1993 — Tommy Rector, Clayton Westerfeld, Matt Kolb, Jeremiah Cooper, Lynn/Jan Jackson (representing Nathan Jackson)
1994 — Tommy Rector, Clayton Westerfeld, Matt Kolb, Jeremiah Cooper, Justin Farris, Tom/Becky Rector (representing Andy Rector)
1995 — Nathan Calvert, Rob Robbins, Greg Kile, Tom/Becky Rector (representing Andy Rector)
1996 — Nathan Calvert, Rob Robbins, Greg Kile, Josh Cooper, Arnd Viehofer (by video call), Tom/Becky Rector (representing Andy Rector)
1997 — Nathan Calvert, Rob Robbins, Greg Kile, Josh Cooper, Tom/Becky Rector (representing Andy Rector)
1998 — Rob Robbins, Josh Cooper, Kelly Robbins, Max Burt
1999 — Kelly Robbins, Adam Jakubiak, Tyson Mathews, Lynn/Jan Jackson (representing Daniel Jackson)
2000 — Kelly Robbins, David Bratton, Lynn/Jan Jackson (representing Daniel Jackson)
2001 — Kelly Robbins, Lynn/Jan Jackson (representing Daniel Jackson), Karen McKinney (representing Matt McKinney)
2002 — Paul McKinney, J.D. Greenlee, Karen McKinney (representing Matt McKinney)
2003 — Paul McKinney, J.D. Greenlee, Bryce Bow, Karen McKinney (representing Matt McKinney)
2004 — Paul McKinney, J.D. Greenlee, Bryce Bow, Zach Ervin, Drew DeHaven
2005 — Zach Ervin, Josh Chambers, Drew DeHaven
2006 — Zach Ervin, Josh Chambers, Zac Bow, Joseph Taylor
2007 — Zach Ervin, Joseph Taylor, Alex Wagner
2008 — Tate Dishman, John Rauchenstein, Paul/Krista Grove (representing Ethan Grove), Jeff Chambers (representing Jordan Chambers)
2009 — Tate Dishman, Paul/Krista Grove (representing Ethan Grove), Jeff Chambers (representing Jordan Chambers)
2010 — Tate Dishman, Paul/Krista Grove (representing Ethan Grove), Jeff Chambers (representing Jordan Chambers)
2011 — Bradley Wuthrich, Paul/Krista Grove (representing Ethan Grove)
2012 — Bradley Wuthrich, Brad Wilson (representing Nick Wilson)
2013 — Bradley Wuthrich, Brad Wilson (representing Nick Wilson)
2014 — Joe Wegener, Jason Wegener, Alec Robillard, Jacob Brewer, Nick Bantz, Brad Wilson (representing Nick Wilson)
2015 — Alec Robillard, Joe Wegener, Jason Wegener, Jacob Brewer, Nick Bantz, Tannon Dishman
2016 — Alec Robillard, Jason Wegener, Tannon Dishman, Parker Robillard
2017 — Jason Wegener, Ben Bamidele, Tanner Southerland, Tannon Dishman, Mason Knight
2018 — Tannon Dishman, Ben Bamidele, Tanner Southerland, Brandon Jackson, Mason Knight
2019 — Tanner Southerland, Brandon Jackson, Daniel Vencel, Mason Knight, Cade Brown, Jaigen Glaze, Walker Boyle
2020 — Tanner Southerland, Josef Zacek, Adam Altobella, Walker Boyle, Brandon Jackson
2021 — Adam Altobella, Owen Vest, Walker Boyle, Mason Wrisley
2022 — Owen Vest, Kody Vest, Riley Bratton, Colin McCrady, Isaac Anderson