Over the past 30 years, Wheelersburg’s presence deep into tournament fields — whether they be regular season or postseason — has been extraordinary.
And once again, that is the story so far of the SOC II Singles and Doubles Tennis Tournaments, which are being held on the campus of Shawnee State University at the William E. Daehler Courts, as the Pirates — up to Wednesday’s semifinal round — have controlled the tempo so far.
Drew Jackson, who was awarded the No. 1 seed in singles play, got a bye in the first round due to his efforts. Jackson defeated Minford’s Alex Chan, 6-0, 6-0 en route to being named an All-SOC player. He faced off against Waverly’s Shane Hitchens on Thursday evening. Minford’s Caden Wilcox also earned the honors — which automatically go to any player that advances to the semifinal round — after defeating Waverly’s Alex Workman, 6-1, 6-2.
In addition to Jackson and Wilcox, Wheelersburg and Minford each had a chance to put another individual in the All-SOC realm as the Falcons’ Arrick Riffe and the Pirates’ Hunter Pistole advanced to quarterfinal action. However, Waverly extinguished that threat as the Tigers’ Brandon Nibert — the No. 2 seed in the SOC II tournament — defeated Pistole, 6-0, 6-0, while Nibert’s teammate, Shane Hitchens, also advanced to semifinal play, winning 6-2, 6-2 despite a tough challenge from Riffe.
Wheelersburg’s overall momentum was evident over on the doubles side of the bracket, where the doubles pairings of Ben Allen and Nic Jones, along with Seth Pertuset and Carson McCorkle, won two hard-fought matches to advance to the semifinals. Allen and Jones, who have only lost one doubles match all year — to the top-seeded pairing of Waverly’s Ryan Dunn and Chase Downing — continued their roll on Tuesday evening, as Allen and Jones won 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the semifinal round.
In what was quite possibly the best match of the entire evening — singles or doubles — the Pertuset/McCorkle pairing, along with Minford’s Laiken Smith and Zac Hammond — who both received byes in the first round — duked it out for three sets in a barnburning match that took 31 sets to decide a winner. However, when the dust settled, the duo of Pertuset and McCorkle prevailed (3-6, 7-5, 6-4) despite a tough challenge from Smith and Hammond as the Pirates put each of their doubles teams in the semifinals.
Valley, who has been a tough out all season long in the tennis realm, was exactly that again on Tuesday, especially in the doubles bracket. Christian Breech and Devon Bradley set the tone for the Indians early on, prevailing 6-4, 6-1 in a quarterfinal match with West’s Leo Steins and Blaine Weaver to advance to a semifinal date with the No. 2-seeded Allen/Jones unit.
The Indians’ second doubles pairing of Austin Jones and Nate Crabtree also faired exceptionally well on Tuesday evening. In addition to defeating West’s Kane Lewis and Chris Dials by a 6-1, 6-3 tally, Jones and Crabtree gave the No. 1-seeded Dunn/Downing combination all it could handle by taking the second set, 6-4, to force a match-deciding third set. However, despite an excellent day from Jones and Crabtree, Dunn and Downing held on by taking the final set, 6-2, to win by a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 mark.
Play continued at Daehler Courts on Wednesday evening as the semifinals and finals of each tournament were played to their conclusions. The SOC I tournament was also in its semifinal and final round as of press deadline.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7