In placing second in singles in the Division I district tournament, last Friday and last Saturday at Elysium Tennis Center, Arren Carter became the first member of the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis team to qualify for state four times.

In placing second in singles in the Division I district tournament, last Friday and last Saturday at Elysium Tennis Center, Arren Carter became the first member of the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis team to qualify for state four times.

But rather than revel in that accomplishment, the senior immediately turned his attention to the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Ohio State.

"It feels good, but mostly because it's another chance to win a state title," Carter said. "If I play up to my potential, I'll have a shot at it."

Last year, Carter opened the state tournament with a 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 loss to Youngstown Boardman's Robert Salcedo. He lost in the second round as a sophomore and freshman, falling to West Chester Lakota West's Wyatt Lippert 6-1, 6-2 in the former and Cincinnati St. Xavier's Patrick Bandy 6-4, 7-5 in the latter. But Carter worked hard to improve his forehand during the offseason and coach Steve Sisko believes he is capable of beating anyone at state.

"Arren has lost to older and more-experienced players in the past, but he's the one with all of the experience now," Sisko said. "He stands a much better chance of advancing far in the tournament this year because he's a seasoned veteran and everything's clicking for him. He's focused and his ball placement is outstanding."

Carter went 3-1 to place second at district for a third consecutive year after winning a district title as a freshman.

He defeated Thomas Worthington's Casey Cempre 6-1, 6-4 in a semifinal before losing to Worthington Kilbourne's Kevin Metka 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 in the final. It was the third meeting between the two this season, with Carter winning 6-4, 6-2 a week earlier in a sectional final and Metka winning 11-10 (8-6) on April 24.

"I served decently and hit my forehand well at times," Carter said. "Kevin Metka is probably going to be my biggest competition at state. If we play again, it will probably come down to who plays better on that day."

Only the top four placers at district in singles and doubles qualified for state, and both of Liberty's doubles teams lost in the first round. Alexander Hathaway and Mitchell Lothes lost to Hilliard Davidson's Ben McClarren and Trent Searfoss 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 and Tyler Gibbons and John McMahon lost to Gahanna's Canyon Teague and Stephen Cheng 6-4, 6-1.

"Our doubles teams played well, but it just wasn't their day," said Sisko, whose team beat Pickerington Central 3-1 in an OTCA quarterfinal on May 19 but lost to Upper Arlington 3-1 in an OTCA semifinal on May 20 to finish 14-4. "It was a tough district for doubles, because a lot of teams put their No. 1 and No. 2 singles players together."