For senior Jesse Shivener of the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team, the wait is over.

For senior Jesse Shivener of the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team, the wait is over.

Shivener placed third in singles in the Division I district tournament May 20-21 at Hilliard Davidson, losing to Dublin Coffman's Hiromi Nakayama 7-6, 6-3 in a semifinal and winning by default over New Albany's Steve Miller in the consolation final, to advance to the state tournament for the first time.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles at district advanced to state, which will be held Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28, at Davidson.

"I still don't believe it," Shivener said. "I don't have words for it. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be."

"I'm so happy for Jesse," coach Chris Schwinnen said. "It has really been a goal of his for the past three years, but he ran into Arren Carter (2010 Olentangy Liberty graduate who was a four-time state qualifier) two out of the last three years at the district tournament. For him, the weight is finally off his shoulders."

Shivener, who improved to 27-3 with the win over Miller, is the Lions' first state qualifier since David Koppel in 2005. Koppel lost to Parma's Phil Oernoe 6-0, 6-0 in the first round at state.

Shivener opened district play with a 6-2, 6-0 win over St. Charles' Dennis Gleason. He then beat Upper Arlington's Jeff Melvin 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in a quarterfinal to secure a state berth.

"I was definitely nervous," Shivener said of the match against Melvin. "That was some of the best tennis I've seen Jeff play. I'd hit a good shot and he'd hit a winner off it. He wasn't giving me anything.

"Last year, I went into that (quarterfinal) match with Arren as the underdog. No one expected me to win. When I lost, it was more acceptable, I guess. (In the match against Melvin), I was the favorite. It's a lot more exciting this year. I knew I had the better chance."

The doubles team of junior Stephen Cheng and sophomore Canyon Teague wasn't as fortunate at district. For the second year in a row, the duo lost a three-set quarterfinal match.

A year after losing 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 to the eventual state runners-up, New Albany's John Hendrix and Riyad Bennoui, Cheng and Teague lost to St. Charles' Grant Dolven and Weston Niermeyer 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Schwinnen said Cheng and Teague were 0-for-9 on break chances in the third set.

"They both had their chances in the third set, but (Dolven and Niermeyer) just capitalized on theirs," Schwinnen said. "When you're getting ready to qualify for states, you have to capitalize on those moments. That will be a hard pill to swallow, but (Cheng and Teague) are coming back."

Gahanna lost to New Albany 3-2 in a district semifinal of the OTCA Division I team tournament on May 18 to finish 14-4 overall. Picking up the wins for the Lions were Shivener at first singles and Teague at second singles.

New Albany advanced to the district championship against Thomas Worthington, with the winner advancing to a state semifinal on Sunday, May 29, at Davidson. The state final will be played that same day at Davidson.

Schwinnen said the focus now is on getting Shivener ready for state.

"I guess it doesn't matter what seed you are coming into the state tournament," Schwinnen said. "Central Ohio tennis is really good. Jesse won't need any extra motivation this week. He wants to perform well."