Boys Tennis: New Albany, Columbus Academy advance to OTCA state tournament
With its first annual goal long since accomplished, the New Albany boys tennis team checked its second off the list May 18.
Wins at second and third singles and second doubles powered the Eagles to a 3-1 win over Dublin Jerome in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district final at Dublin Coffman and into their fifth consecutive state tournament.
An added bonus this year for New Albany is that it will play host to state.
“It’s not lost on us that this is a privilege. This is a great district for tennis,” Eagles coach Marc Thomas said. “They’ve gotten so much better. Our doubles looks totally different than it did at the beginning of the season. We’re flying around and playing aggressively, doing all the things we need to do to put ourselves in a great position. …
“Winning a district title and getting a chance to compete for a team title is pretty incredible.”
Devin Boyer defeated Maxwell Stratford 6-0, 6-1 at second singles, Ben Bilenko swept Rohan Athavale 6-0, 6-3 at third singles and New Albany’s second-doubles team of Dhruv Chavan and Declan Freedhoff beat Vijan Bajoria and Kevin Li 6-2, 6-3.
OTCA contests end as soon as one team wins three matches.
The Eagles improved to 15-3 and will play Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit or Hunting Valley University School in a state semifinal May 30.
The winner will play Findlay, Mason or Toledo St. John’s in the final, and the semifinal losers will face off in the third-place match.
Jerome’s first-doubles team of Tanish Pairu and Eli Wiblin won 6-2, 6-2 over Halen Hamstead and Kaan Odabas.
At first singles, New Albany’s Ryan Mudre defeated Max Fickas 6-4 in the first set, and the second was tied at 1 when the match ended.
“New Albany is the class of central Ohio and we hopefully made them a little nervous after we won (first doubles),” said Celtics coach Ken Berlin, whose team finished 14-2. “We knew coming in that it would be an uphill battle but our guys responded well and raised their personal play on a lot of courts. (New Albany) didn’t give us a lot.”
Columbus Academy earned its first OTCA Division II state tournament berth since 2016 by beating Wellington 3-1 in the district final May 18 at home.
It was the Vikings’ second victory this season over the Jaguars, having also won 3-2 on April 14 in an MSL-Ohio Division match.
Academy improved to 16-5 and will play Cincinnati Indian Hill in a state semifinal May 30 at Reynoldsburg.
"I started four years ago when Jack (Madison), Arie (Tuckerman) and Lucas (Huang) were freshmen,” Academy coach Marc Wurtzman said. “I’ve never been to the (state team tournament) for the boys. None of these players have been there. I’m extremely excited for this opportunity to be in the (state tournament).”
Wurtzman also coaches the school’s girls team.
The Vikings won two of three singles matches and a doubles match to secure the state berth.
Tuckerman defeated Sadeq AlAli 6-1, 6-2 at second singles, Saagar Arya beat Jack Kalnicki 6-0, 6-1 at third singles and Huang and Ryan Panley defeated Hussein AlAli and Sanjan Shanker 6-3, 6-3 at second doubles for Academy’s three wins.
Griffin Biernat beat Madison 6-2, 6-3 at first singles for the Jaguars’ lone win.
“They got us today,” said Wellington coach Tommy Haddow, whose team finished 10-5. “They played strong. I didn’t expect them to play that strong.”