Ohio Valley Cup
Local players help secure tennis title
Upper Arlington High School senior Nate Wallace was looking for redemption when he participated in the Ohio Valley Cup tennis tournament June 16 and 17 in Parkersburg, W.Va.
Wallace, who helped a nine-player Central Ohio team win the event, was determined to have a better showing after Columbus' disappointing performance in the Division I boys state tournament May 25 and 26 at Ohio State. No players from central Ohio advanced past the quarterfinal round in singles or doubles at state.
"I don't think any of the central Ohio players performed the way they wanted to at the state tournament," said Wallace, whose team defeated Dayton 9-1 and Mid-Ohio Valley Tennis Association 10-0 on June 16 and Cincinnati 8-2 in the final on June 17. "We wanted to show that we weren't as weak as they thought we were. We showed them we could still play."
Central Ohio's roster was comprised of four boys in Wallace, UA senior Brandon Griffin, UA junior Jeffrey Melvin and New Albany sophomore C.J. Cash and five girls in DeSales senior My Linh Li, Dublin Jerome senior Sarah Stein, New Albany senior Cristina DiLorenzo, Hartley senior Rachael Morales and Jerome sophomore Emma Stein.
The team was coached by Jerome boys and girls coach Tyler Stephen and Worthington Kilbourne boys coach Steve Metzmaier.
Wallace and Melvin lost in a state quarterfinal this spring. Last fall at state, Sarah Stein won the Division I title in doubles with Lauren Bellinger, Li placed third in Division II in singles, DiLorenzo and Emma Stein both lost in a Division I quarterfinal in singles and Morales lost in the first round of singles in Division II.
Sarah Stein likes the team aspect of the Ohio Valley Cup.
"Usually in junior tennis, you don't have a lot of team tournaments," she said. "Each person played a role on this team. You're not just playing for yourself; you're playing for the whole team."
"They were very willing to represent Columbus," Stephen said, referring to all nine players. "They take pride in that they were asked to play in this and represent the city. They love the opportunity to compete in a different type of environment."
Each match in the Ohio Valley Cup was decided by an eight-game pro set and featured two boys singles and doubles courts, two girls singles and doubles courts and two mixed doubles courts.
In the championship match, Wallace and Melvin defeated Cincinnati's Phil Gruber and Ryan O'Gara 8-4. The doubles teams had met May 27 when UA played Springboro in the OTCA Division I state team tournament final. In that match, Gruber and O'Gara won the first set at first doubles 7-6, but Wallace and Melvin were up 5-1 in the second set when play was stopped because UA had clinched the state title.
"They wanted to finish that match they started at the state team tournament," Stephen said. "They used this one as a way of saying, 'Hey, we didn't finish our match against you the last time, but we're the better doubles team.' "
Also on the boys side, Cash defeated Alex Lebedev 9-7 at second singles, Cash and Griffin defeated Lebedev and Nakul Narendran 8-6 at second doubles and Griffin lost to Gruber 9-8 at first singles.
On the girls side in the championship match, Central Ohio swept all four courts, with Morales defeating Nina Cepeda 8-4 at first singles, DiLorenzo beating Lise Swain 8-4 at second singles, the Stein sisters defeating Amina Ismail and Nicole Soutar 8-3 at first doubles and Li and Morales beating Cepeda and Swain 8-2 at second doubles.
In mixed doubles in the match, Melvin and Emma Stein defeated Narendran and Soutar 8-1 at second doubles and Wallace and Sarah Stein lost to O'Gara and Ismail 9-7 at first doubles.
"Our girls side was heads and tails above everyone else, but it was more of a coin flip who would win on the guys side against Cincinnati," Stephen said. "Before the match, I was thinking it could go either way, but we just took it to them."
Central Ohio also won the Ohio Valley Cup in 2011, with Wallace, DiLorenzo and Sarah Stein among the players on its roster.