Spencer Walter typically plays first singles for the Hilliard Davidson High School boys tennis team and plans on playing singles in the Division I sectional tournament next month, but the senior believes he can benefit from playing doubles in the Hilliard Doubles Classic on Saturday, April 14, at Davidson.
“Playing doubles makes my volleys better, improves my reflexes and definitely helps my footwork,” he said.
Walter, who was 3-0 at first singles before an OCC-Central Division match against Central Crossing on April 10, is expected to be paired with junior Joe Justus in the Hilliard Doubles Classic. Also participating in the eight-team event are Cincinnati Seven Hills, Dublin Coffman, Olentangy Liberty, St. Charles, Watterson, Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne.
“It’s a fun thing that people like to come to,” first-year coach Steve De Dent said. “Our tournament is a little different than what most people do.
“I hope it gives players a little bit of doubles practice. Often you have two singles players who want to play doubles in the sectional tournament, but they never got a chance to test their skills in doubles.”
The Hilliard Doubles Classic gives the Wildcats a chance to test potential postseason pairings against historically quality competition.
Among those to participate in the event in recent years were New Albany’s Peter Kobelt and Skyler Engel, who won the 2007 Division II state championship, Watterson’s Chris Diaz and Philip Diaz, who won the 2008 Division I state title and were the 2009 Division I state runners-up, and Kilbourne’s Kevin Metka and Jonny Price, who won the 2009 Division I state championship.
“(Former coaches Kim Shepherd and Shawn Walton) kept the quality of the opponents high,” De Dent said. “It’s not one of those tournaments we set up to win every year. We bring in good competition so it will help improve our doubles teams and make their doubles team better.”
Last season, Davidson scored 12 points to finish seventh, behind Thomas (26), New Albany (24), Seven Hills (23), Coffman (21), Liberty (21) and Watterson (14) and ahead of Kilbourne (7).
Zach Page and Greg Tiffan, both 2011 graduates, had the Wildcats’ best finish, placing fourth in the second flight after losing to Liberty’s Vick Chhabria and Matt Wong 8-7 (7-4). Justus and senior Jim Andrews placed fifth in the fourth flight after defeating Thomas Worthington’s Carlos Waibl and Paul Bohorquez 8-3.
The only time Davidson has won the Hilliard Doubles Classic since the event went to its current format in 1994 was in 2007, when the Wildcats tied Kilbourne and New Albany for first with 26 points.
“It’d mean a lot to our team if we won it, especially when you consider the competition that is coming in,” De Dent said. “Knowing you beat some of the best players in central Ohio would give us a huge lift in our confidence.”
“There’s steep competition,” Walter said. “There are top-level players from all over the place. It’s more about having fun than winning the tournament.”