Sophomore Arren Carter of the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis team failed to defend his singles title in the Division I district tournament last Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Davidson, as he lost to New Albany's Peter Kobelt 6-1, 6-3 in the final.

Sophomore Arren Carter of the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis team failed to defend his singles title in the Division I district tournament last Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Davidson, as he lost to New Albany's Peter Kobelt 6-1, 6-3 in the final.


But Carter said he feels more prepared for the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Ohio State than he did a year ago after he breezed his way to a district title.


Carter beat Upper Arlington's Sean Carr 6-0, 6-1 in the district final last year before losing to Cincinnati St. Xavier's Patrick Bandy 6-4, 7-5 in a state quarterfinal.


"Obviously, I want to beat Peter, but even when I lose to him it's still great preparation for the kind of competition I'm going to see at state," Carter said. "Last year, I didn't have anyone pushing me at district, and it was hard to bring my game up when I ran into tougher competition. Peter always brings out the best in me. I don't mind losing to him as long as I can win state. That's the most important thing to me."


Carter said the key to winning matches at state will be avoiding unforced errors.


"I have to play smart and not give up a bunch of free points because that usually makes the difference in close matches," Carter said. "I've gotten bigger and stronger since last year and I've improved my entire game. I'm confident I can do better if I play well."


Carter opened district with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Gahanna's Jesse Shivener before downing Thomas Worthington's Casey Cempre 7-5, 6-0 in a state-qualifying match.


"I tried to be aggressive and dictate play in both matches," Carter said.


Carter rallied to beat Thomas' Tyler Cempre 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a semifinal.


"Arren was a little erratic in the first set, but he hit 90 percent of his shots in the second and third sets," coach Larry Holman said. "This was a tougher district than last year, but these kind of matches are making Arren better."


Carter is 27-3, with all three losses coming to Kobelt.


"Arren and Peter both have tremendous control of their shots," Holman said. "Arren played great, but Peter played a little bit better. The difference was Peter is a year older and he already serves like a college player."


The doubles team of Michael Hathaway and Mitchell Lothes opened district play with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Worthington Kilbourne's Nick Kowalczyk and Jonny Price.


"Michael fell and had a concussion last week, so he wasn't able to practice all week," Holman said. "That really effected his serve. His first serve wasn't falling and that's usually his biggest weapon."