Upper Arlington News

Boys Tennis

Bears fall shy of primary goals

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The Upper Arlington High School boys tennis team ended the season in the usual places.

The Golden Bears had at least one state qualifier for the 56th consecutive year, won their 32nd consecutive league championship and advanced to the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state tournament.

Unfortunately for the Bears, they fell short of their top goals.

UA didn't have any players advance beyond the second round at state, which was held May 30 and May 31 at Ohio State and it lost to Cincinnati Sycamore 3-1 in the OTCA Division I final June 1 at Reynoldsburg.

The Bears were seeking their third consecutive OTCA title.

"I expected a lot more three-set (matches)," coach Amos Allison said of the match against Sycamore. "The first time we played them (a 3-2 loss on April 12), we had a bunch of three-set matches. That's a well-coached and disciplined team. They played like champions and we played like runners-up. We played our hearts out, but they executed like champions and our execution fell short."

Senior Jeffrey Melvin posted UA's only win against Sycamore, defeating Nakul Narendran 6-2, 6-2. In doubles, junior Will Lahrmann and sophomore Eric Hunter lost to Mustafa Ahmad and Noah Stern 6-2, 6-4 and juniors Tyler Holsopple and Anthony Yang lost to Alex Wittenbaum and Aditya Venkitarama 6-1, 6-3. In the deciding match, a rally by junior Chuck Shewalter late in the second set fell short in a 6-1, 6-4 loss to Deepak Indrakanti.

OTCA contests end as soon as one team wins three matches.

"We had high expectations for ourselves and we were excited to see how it would play out," said Melvin, who has committed to Boston College.

UA shut out Toledo St. John's 3-0 in an OTCA semifinal June 1. Shewalter defeated Rajeev Laungani 6-2, 6-0, Hunter and Lahrmann beat Ryan Brown and Jonah Carter 6-4, 6-1 and Holsopple and Yang topped Ryan Issa and Trevor Majdalani 6-2, 6-2.

The Bears had six state qualifiers for the first time since 1997. Melvin and Shewalter both went 1-1 in singles, Hunter and freshman Jack Zelezny went 1-1 in doubles and Holsopple and Yang were 0-1 in doubles.

Shewalter defeated Willoughby South's Vince Anzalone 6-2, 6-1 before losing to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit's Aaron Sandberg 6-3, 6-2 in the second round. Melvin beat Findlay's Reid Teatsorth 6-2, 6-4 before losing to the eventual state champion, Cleveland St. Ignatius' Nathan Griffin, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 in the second round.

Hunter and Zelezny beat Solon's Nam Le and Rushil Shah 6-4, 6-2 before losing to Mason's Nadim Boulos and Sean Reid 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round, and Holsopple and Yang lost to Copley's Gavin Aten and Andrew Ong 6-1, 6-4 in the first round.

UA finished 17-3 overall and went 7-0 in the OCC-Central Division. The Bears cruised through the league, winning each match by a 5-0 score. Dublin Coffman (6-1) placed second, followed Hilliard Davidson (5-2), Olentangy Liberty (4-3), Marysville (3-4), Thomas Worthington (2-5), Westland (1-6) and Central Crossing (0-7).

UA's only regular-season losses came against out-of-area teams in Sycamore and St. Ignatius (3-2 on May 9).

In a sectional that concluded May 20 at home, Shewalter won the singles title and Melvin placed third. In doubles, Hunter and Zelezny placed second and Holsopple and Yang finished third, as the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.

Shewalter captured the singles championship at district May 23 and 24 at Davidson, defeating New Albany's Stephen Miller 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Melvin, who lost to Shewalter 6-1, 7-5 in a semifinal, placed third.

Hunter and Zelezny won the doubles title at district, beating New Albany's C.J. Cash and Alex Kobelt 7-5, 7-5 in the final to avenge a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 loss to Cash and Kobelt in the sectional final.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for state.

UA advanced to the OTCA state tournament with a 3-0 win over New Albany in a district final May 27.

"We always like to hang the banners and be in first and hold up that Arlington tradition," Allison said. "We did a lot of good things. We swept through the district in singles and doubles and it came down to one point, a few points here or there, in the (OTCA) state finals.

"Hopefully, this just serves as motivation to those guys who didn't win. For the guys who weren't in there, it gives them motivation to practice hard all offseason. I hope they realize that championships are won on days like (June 1), but earned in the offseason."

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