All season long, the strength of the Columbus East boys tennis team has been in its singles, and the strength of Hauser has been its doubles.
Thursday afternoon, in the semifinals of the Columbus North Sectional, that played out when the two county teams met for the first time this season. The Jets won both doubles matches, but the Olympians swept the singles spots to pull out a 3-2 win and a berth in today’s 4 p.m. final against fourth-ranked North.
“I was really happy with the way our singles played,” East coach Matt Malinsky said. “Our 2 and 3 singles I feel like had good matches and took care of business. Then, Erik (Takahashi at No. 1 singles) had actually kind of a tricky matchup, and he rose to the occasion after a slow start and played really well after going down 3-0 right away.”
With the match tied at 1-1 after quick wins from the Olympians’ Matthew Degner at No. 2 singles and Hauser’s Levi Gollmer and Hunter Pappano at No. 1 doubles, Takahashi rallied from deficits of 3-0 in the first set and 2-1 in the second set to claim a 6-3, 6-3 win against the Jets’ Caleb Wallace.
“When we lost 1 doubles as quickly as we did, and 2 doubles started getting a little bit tight, I was starting to get a little nervous, kind of like (Wednesday),” Malinsky said. “But Erik at 1 singles turned it around fairly quickly and started playing really well, and he stayed ahead that whole second set, so I was glad he was able to close it out. That took the pressure off.”
Degner against Jackson Burcham at No. 2 singles, and Brady Redelman against Hagan Wiedersatz at No. 3 singles both won by 6-0, 6-0 scores for East (8-14), the latter giving the Olympians a 3-1 lead and clinching the match.
For the Jets (6-12), Gollmer and Pappano beat Jacob Dettmer and Ethan Bumbalough 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles, earning the right to advance in the individual state doubles tournament. Hauser’s Kameron Blair and Jentzen Bechtel topped Tyler Ernst and Henry Ulrich 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.
“Our doubles have been strong all year,” Hauser coach Andy Kilps said. “I’m very proud of them. Overall, we’re a younger team. We’re hoping to continue moving forward in the years to come. As a first-year coach, I feel like I’m learning a lot, but it’s been a great first year. We’re thankful to have our No. 1 doubles advance.”
North (20-2), meanwhile, had no trouble in its 5-0 win against Brown County. With only six players, the Eagles (3-14) had to forfeit the No. 3 singles spot, giving the Bull Dogs a quick 1-0 lead.
North’s Nathan Lin against Jack Sichting at No. 1 singles, Alex Clark against Owen East at No. 2 singles, Anvay Atram and Amrit Kar against Trevor Shields and Jon Kirchner at No. 1 doubles and Parth Gupta and Parth Shah against Sawyer Gore and Brandon Seachao at No. 2 doubles all won by 6-0, 6-0 scores.
“We hope to go deep into the tournament,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “It will be tougher down the road than today. We went out there, and we were looking for 6-0 matches, and that’s what we got today. That’s what we want to do.”
With no seniors, Brown County has the potential to return all of its players next year.
“We played short all season,” Brown County coach Kevin Roush said. “We have potentially four freshmen coming in, so this was really just about us learning the game and getting better this year to really think about next year.”