Physical issues kept Worthington Christian High School boys tennis player Joel Montgomery from having the type of finish he was looking for a year ago.

Physical issues kept Worthington Christian High School boys tennis player Joel Montgomery from having the type of finish he was looking for a year ago.

It's been all about the mental battles during the postseason this time for the sophomore, who lost for the first time this season in the Division II district championship match May 19 but has survived well enough to become the school's first state qualifier in more than a decade.

Montgomery will compete in the state tournament Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, at Ohio State. He lost to Bexley's Matt Wareti 6-3, 6-2 in the district final at Columbus Academy to earn a No. 2 seed.

Montgomery will open the state tournament against Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic senior Andrew Linden. Linden lost in the first round of the 2010 state tournament and fell in the second round at state last year. He was a third-place finisher at district this season.

"I just wasn't mentally prepared (against Wareti), I think because I was still mentally exhausted from (May 18)," Montgomery said. "It was just a tough match, but I made it to state and that's all that matters."

Montgomery takes a 21-1 record into the state tournament.

On May 18, he beat Bexley's Ethan Goodstein 6-0, 6-0 but needed three sets to edge Granville's Daniel Gardner 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 6-3 to qualify for state.

In the match against Gardner, Montgomery fell behind 3-0 in the first set before battling back to tie it at 4-4. Montgomery held serve to make it 6-6 and came back from a 2-1 deficit in the tie-breaker.

Montgomery lost the second set but came back from down one break and with Gardner leading 3-2 to win the final four games.

He is the first boy to make it to state in tennis for the Warriors since David Taylor lost in the second round of singles as a senior in 2000.

The last tennis player to compete at state for Worthington Christian was Christiana Raymond, who won the Division II girls state title in 2006 as a freshman before transferring to Columbus Academy.

"He fought the mental game (against Gardner)," coach Alexander Schmidt said. "They're both excellent players, although it was not the prettiest tennis in the world."

"When (Gardner) was up 4-1 in the second set, I didn't see the point in trying to win it in two (sets)," Montgomery said. "I wanted to have enough energy for the third set. I definitely think it was nerves early on. I'm just real excited to be going to state. I did have some nerves, but last year there was more pressure because of freshman expectations. I didn't handle it well. I've just been trying to have fun."

The team of senior Jon Myer and junior Luke Howard lost to Bexley's David Seckel and Matt Schottenstein, the eventual runner-up, 6-0, 6-0 in the opening round of the district doubles tournament.

Howard and Myer went 10-8 as a doubles team this season.

"I told the guys that there were some adjustments they could have made that would have helped to improve their scores, but they put themselves in great position to win every point," Schmidt said. "The score of 6-0, 6-0 doesn't show how close each game was. They have a lot to be proud of."

Track teams advance contingent to regional

Chris Bradley and Michael Stomps ran on the 400-meter relay that made appearances at the state track and field meet in both their freshman and sophomore seasons before the relay they were a part of last season settled for sixth at the regional.

The relay, which again featured Bradley and Stomps and also included sophomores Chris Osborn and Mark Parsell, won't get another opportunity at state after it was disqualified during the preliminaries of the Division III, district 1 meet May 16 at Gahanna.

"Unfortunately we were disqualified for being out of the exchange zone, but we actually weren't," Bradley said. "We looked at the tape and it looks like we had the end of the baton in the zone, but the ref makes a call and it was a tough call for him."

Bradley and Stomps took advantage of their other opportunities on the final day of the district meet May 19. Bradley took third in the 100 (11.47 seconds), Stomps earned a runner-up finish in the 400 (52.03) and Stomps ran on the 1,600 relay along with Parsell, sophomore Matt Watterson and freshman J.J. Phillips that was third (3:34.44).

Watterson added a third-place finish in the 1,600 (4:40.16).

The Warriors were sixth (35) of 14 teams that scored behind champion Columbus Academy at district.

The top four in each district event advanced to the regional May 23 and Friday, May 25, at Fairfield Union. The top four in each regional event move on to the state meet June 1-2 at Ohio State.

"Like one of our basketball coaches says, the season is a marathon and the tournament is a sprint," said Bradley, who helped the boys basketball team earn a district championship this winter. "We're still in it."

Moving on to the regional for the girls team after placing fourth at district were Natalee Cole in the 400 (1:02) and the 1,600 relay of Cole, senior Allie Custer and sophomores Sarah Sharp and Elena Wuest (4:15.67).

The girls placed 14th (17) of 23 teams that scored at district behind champion Columbus Academy (83).

Among those who came up just short of advancing to regional were Bradley in the long jump (fifth, 20 feet, 7 1/2 inches), Parsell in the long jump (sixth, 18-10 1/4), Cole in the 100 (fifth, 13.33) and Custer in the 100 (sixth, 13.41).