The return shots of Thomas Worthington's Casey Cempre left senior Kevin Blackstone of the Hilliard Davidson High School boys tennis team little margin for error.

The return shots of Thomas Worthington's Casey Cempre left senior Kevin Blackstone of the Hilliard Davidson High School boys tennis team little margin for error.

Cempre, a Division I state quarterfinalist last season, defeated Blackstone 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 20 at Davidson. Cempre went on to win the district title to advance to state Friday and Saturday, May 27-28, at Davidson.

"I felt like I played really well, but he was just a little more consistent than I was," said Blackstone, the Wildcats' lone district qualifier. "He hits really flat shots that are low with a lot of speed. It takes a lot of time to anticipate where they're going to go."

"He was going against a great, talented opponent in Casey Cempre," coach Shawn Walton said. "We knew we had to have everything clicking and do all the right things to get past him."

Despite the early exit from district, Blackstone said advancing there for the first time was the high point of his season. Blackstone, who placed fourth in the Davidson sectional May 12 and 14, finished the year at 7-7 overall.

"Throughout this whole (postseason) I have been really consistent and I was able to keep the ball back," Blackstone said.

"The thing I am most proud of is he didn't give up," Walton added. "It's easy to kind of fold it in and let it happen when you're playing someone like (Cempre). He kept fighting and trying to do the right thing until the last point. I respect him for doing that."

Walton said the never-quit attitude permeated his team. He listed the team's 3-2 victories over Worthington Kilbourne on April 14 and Pickerington North on May 10 as the highlight wins of the season.

"We don't look at who we are going against, but we try to do our individual things right," Walton said. "I felt like against Kilbourne and Pickerington North each person put their things they were working on together and were able to perform at a high level."

Davidson finished 7-9 overall and fourth (4-3 in dual matches, 41 points) in the OCC-Central Division behind Upper Arlington (7-0, 82), Thomas (6-1, 60) and Dublin Coffman (5-2, 59) and ahead of Kilbourne (3-4, 40), Darby (2-5, 27), Westland (1-6, 10) and Central Crossing (0-7, 1).

Blackstone was one of three seniors the Wildcats will lose, joining Zach Page and Greg Tiffan. Juniors Pat Holland and Spencer Walter and sophomores Joe Justus and Michael Porter are expected to return.

"(Blackstone, Page and Tiffan) made a mark in some leadership roles and kept things going in practice and made things fun, too," Walton said. "I appreciate the support they have put into working hard and being the leaders of the team."