Olentangy High School boys tennis coach Jeff Luxenburger wasn't sure how junior Austin Karbler would respond after losing the first set and falling behind 5-2 in the second set of his first-round singles match against Hilliard Davidson's Thomas Porter in the Division I district tournament.

Olentangy High School boys tennis coach Jeff Luxenburger wasn't sure how junior Austin Karbler would respond after losing the first set and falling behind 5-2 in the second set of his first-round singles match against Hilliard Davidson's Thomas Porter in the Division I district tournament.

Turns out that Karbler was unfazed, as he rallied for a 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win.

Olentangy's lone qualifier for the district tournament May 24 and 25 at Davidson, Karbler lost to New Albany's Rathnakishore Giri 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) in the second round to fall one win shy of advancing to state. He finished 23-5 on the season.

The four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for the state tournament Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State.

"This was only the second three-set match Austin has played in this season and it was his first time competing at district, so it was a new experience for him," Luxenburger said. "He started slow against Porter, but he showed a lot of determination and played really well to come back and win that match.

"Giri was a real solid player and Austin was tired after playing Porter in a match that lasted 3 hours, 20 minutes. Austin's legs cramped up, but he kept battling and he picked it up and made it a competitive match."

Olentangy finished 16-2 overall a year after going 3-12. It went 6-1 in matches decided by a 3-2 score, including victories over Liberty on April 10 and Orange in an OCC-Capital Division match April 20.

The Braves went 6-1 in OCC-Capital matches and finished the league tournament May 11 at home with 55 points to place second, behind New Albany (82, 7-0) and ahead of Orange (53, 5-2), Big Walnut (35, 3-4), Delaware (35, 3-4), Watkins Memorial (35, 3-4), Mount Vernon (16, 1-6) and Franklin Heights (2, 0-7).

Going 2-1 and placing second in the league tournament were Karbler at first singles and sophomores Kevin Miller and Arun Esakkirajmohan at second and third singles, respectively.

"We had a lot of 3-2 wins with different players winning on different courts for us," Luxenburger said. "We also played well enough in the OCC tournament to finish second overall after we finished seventh in the OCC last year."

Olentangy competed in the sectional tournament May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.

Karbler went 4-1 and placed second as the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.

Also competing in singles were Miller, who went 1-1, and Esakkirajmohan, who went 0-1.

In doubles, senior Logan Smith and junior Zoheb Memon went 2-1 and juniors Matt Dean and Huzaifa Doctor went 1-1.

"Austin was the cornerstone for our team during a fantastic season and getting him to district as a No. 2 seed was a huge highlight," Luxenburger said. "We're in fantastic shape for next year. We have seven varsity players with a lot of experience coming back, including (sophomore) Madhay Shah. We also have a large eighth-grade class and some good freshmen who are looking to move up to varsity, so it's going to be real competitive for a position on our team next year."

Patriots showedsteady improvement

Liberty did not have any Division I district qualifiers and finished 6-10 overall.

The Patriots went 3-4 in the OCC-Capital and finished the league tournament May 11 at Upper Arlington with 42 points to place fourth, behind UA (81, 7-0), Dublin Coffman (63, 6-1) and Davidson (63, 5-2) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (36, 3-4), Marysville (33, 3-4), Central Crossing (12, 1-6) and Westland (0, 0-7).

Senior Kyle Flahive went 2-1 and placed third at first singles and senior Alex Heydorn and junior Hemanth Kovalla went 2-1 and finished third at first doubles.

"We improved throughout the year and any time you can beat one of your sister schools, it's a good thing," coach Steve Sisko said, referring to a 3-2 win over Orange on April 25. "Getting fourth in our league also was a big accomplishment with the teams we have to compete with."

Liberty competed in the sectional May 16 and 18 at UA.

In doubles, Flahive and Heydorn went 2-1 and senior Andrew Topinka and freshman Mohit Daga and Topinka went 1-1. In singles, junior Shravon Patel went 1-1 and senior E.J. Sidhu and sophomore Sayantan Basu and Sidhu both went 0-1.

"Our four seniors improved and competed in every match," Sisko said. "We have some good guys coming back and we have some good guys on our (junior varsity) and freshman teams moving up, so we're looking forward to next year."

Pioneers doublesteam falls at district

The doubles team of seniors Tim Hawk and Ryan Jay represented Orange in the Division I district tournament, losing to Pickerington North's Blaine Carr and Ben Keen 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) in the first round.

The Pioneers finished 7-11 overall and placed third in the OCC-Capital.

In the league tournament, the first doubles team of sophomores Stephen Spezzano and Kaleb Kok and the second doubles team of Jay and junior Ramandeep Zilkhu both went 2-1 and finished second.

Orange competed in the sectional May 16 and 18 at Davidson.

Hawk and Jay went 4-1 and placed third in doubles to qualify for district for the first time.

Also at sectional, the doubles team of Spezzano and Kok went 0-1 and juniors Michael Kunchal, Sahil Shah and Ramandeep Zilkhu each went 0-1 in singles.