KOKOMO -- There's a collection of strong Indiana high school boys tennis teams, and then there is No. 1-ranked and reigning state champion Carmel.
For the second time this season, West Lafayette Sectional champion West Lafayette faced the unbeaten Greyhounds, this time in Tuesday afternoon's Kokomo Regional.
And for the second time, Carmel pounded the Red Devils 5-0, advancing to today's regional final against Kokomo without losing a set.
"Playing Carmel is like playing a really good small-college team," WL senior and No. 1 doubles player Rett Berry said. "It's just a different level of tennis.
"You have to get used to it. You spend the first set getting warmed up. Then, the second set is just more of the same. It's tough."
Berry and partner Jacob Weiss played well, yet Carmel's No. 1 doubles team of Connor Dunn and Elliott Yee won easily 6-0, 6-1.
Carmel (13-0) has played 65 matches -- five in each dual meet -- and is 64-1, losing only at No. 2 singles late in the season during a 4-1 victory against sixth-ranked Center Grove.
Until this year, West Lafayette hosted a regional and would not have faced Carmel until the state finals. In August, the Red Devils learned that the IHSAA was sending the WL winner to Kokomo for regional competition.
"When we found out the news during two-a-days, we all were sad," Weiss said. "Everything after the sectional would be just icing on the cake. We wanted to get the sectional championship back, which we did this year.
"We beat our rivals -- the Harrison guys that dethroned us last year -- to do it. No matter what happened after sectional, if we got that back, it was going to be a successful season. One day, we will look back at this and say it was a great season."
WL senior David Hollis faced Carmel's No. 1, Mihir Kumar, and was blanked 6-0, 6-0.
"Playing them is like a warmup to go play Division I in college," Hollis said. "I just tried to do my best to compete. On the bus ride over here, Jake and I were talking about playing the best team in the state.
"Still, we feel proud of ourselves. Beating Carmel would have been awesome, but we accomplished our primary goal, which was winning the sectional."
WL coach Tim Wright appreciates just how good Carmel is.
"Without question, Carmel is a top program," Wright said. "They've lost one point all year. With the difficult schedule they play, to be able to say that is just unheard of."
In the individual tournament, Central Catholic's Matt Bouggy rallied to defeat Northwestern's Matt Mervis 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will play Twin Lakes' Brian Moore at 4:30 today.