For the early part of the boys tennis sectional semifinal Thursday between crosstown rivals Columbus North and Columbus East, the Olympians had their chances of dethroning the defending champions.
The Bull Dogs, however, showed that they are still the team to beat as they scored the points necessary in the crucial stages of the match to prevail 3-2.
North will face Brown County, a 3-2 winner against Hauser in the other semifinal, in today’s sectional final at 4:30 p.m. at North.
“We let a match slip away, but a win is a win, and now we have to prepare for Brown County if we want to get to regional,” North coach Kendal Hammel said.
“When you have a much stronger and faster team like Columbus North, you just have to get your guys to play as loose and as much fun as they can and realize not every shot is going to be the one that is going to beat you,” Brown County coach Kevin Roush said. “You just have to come in with confidence.”
East did not come away empty, though, as they earned victories at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles to advance in the postseason at both spots.
“It is a great feeling right now,” said East No. 1 singles player Alex Galle, who beat Aditya Mantri 6-1, 6-2 to move on in the singles tournament. “I just stuck to my game plan that I used against him the last time I faced him. I served well, and I didn’t get broken and that really makes a difference.”
It was a lot harder for Matt Furnish and Sammy Woolwine to stamp their ticket in the doubles tournament. They took the first set 7-5 but ran into trouble in the second to fall 6-4. They were behind in the third set but stormed back to prevail 6-4 against North’s Nathan VanDeventer and Kevin Lin.
“They were playing afraid to lose for a while,” East coach Jim Stone said. “Then, they finally started getting aggressive and playing to win, and that made a difference. It’s fun seeing them go on.”
“I think they let their emotions get the best of them,” Hammel said of his No. 1 doubles team. “(Furnish and Woolwine) weren’t playing their best tennis at the time, and they stepped it up and beat us in the end.”
At No. 2 singles, East’s JoJo Woolwine had several chances to break Kevin Luo serve in the first set but was unable to and fell 7-5. Luo closed it out by taking the second set and match 6-1.
“JoJo played a really good first set and so did I, so it was a tough battle early on,” Luo said. “I just had to keep my head in the game and eventually find a way to pull through.”
At No. 3 singles Anay Gangal downed Neeraj Pandita 6-4, 7-5. North coach Kendal Hammel liked the play he saw from Luo and Gangal.
“They both did very well because their matches were much closer earlier in the season,” Hammel said.
At No. 2 doubles, North’s Daniel Larken and Ammar Khaled beat Daniel Kuhlman and Austin Guse 6-3, 6-1.
In Brown County’s win against Hauser, Levi Patterson downed Will Rose 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles. Cash Myers defeated Avery Talent 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles. Hunter Ellis and Zion Bunge topped Noah Miller and Luke Meier 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles.
Hauser’s wins came at No. 3 singles where Sam Meek beat Eli White 6-4, 6-2, and Alex Gross and Jacob Johnson defeating Austin Roush and Cole Smith 7-5, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.
“It was a very good season overall,” Hauser coach John Pratt said. “The boys always tried very hard and never gave me any trouble. There were no complaints.”