Even though there are a few games left in the season, it is never too early to start thinking ahead.
Portsmouth coach Chris Cole decided to get a jump on the sectional tournament against Gallia Academy, and nearly pulled off a big win. Moving singles players Tommy Khoury and Ian Rowland to the No. 1 doubles spot, the newly formed duo were matched up against the Blue Devil duo of Quint Nibert and Jordan Cornwell, who had yet to lose a match all season.
Rowland and Khoury nearly changed that, rallying from a 4-1 deficit at one point in the second set, but ultimately fell in straight sets 7-5, 7-5. Gallia Academy won the match 5-0, but Portsmouth's newly-formed duo showed coach Cole that they could do well in the tournament.
"We took our top two guys, and it was 5-7, 5-7 in their first time ever playing together against a top team," said Cole. "We are going to do the same thing against Chillicothe (on Wednesday), but I think they are going to have a great chance at the sectional. For me, as a coach, that is a good thing."
"I played doubles for the past two years at Minford, so I think that I am going to try and bring some of that out this year at sectionals," said Khoury. "I was really surprised that we came back from 4-1, because that is a big deal to come back and perform like that."
Coming into the contest, Gallia Academy was one of the top teams in the SEOAL, and the Blue Devils kept their standing intact, winning every match in straight sets. In the No. 2 singles match, Joan Sojka defeated Portsmouth Sarah Clayton 6-2, 6-3, a score matched by the No. 2 doubles duo of Mollie Blake and Tim Hoffman in their win over Chase Scott and Gavin Dillow.
Gallia's Josh Jackson def. Evan Sommer 6-2, 6-1, and Kamal Dayal won the No. 1 singles match over Nick Nelson 6-0, 6-0. The win keeps the Blue Devils, who have matches with Ironton and Jackson left on the schedule, on pace with Chillicothe in the race for the SEOAL South crown.
Gallia Academy also has to finish a match with Chillicothe today that could decide the South Division champion.
"We can't overlook playing a Jackson and an Ironton because we are not that type of team to wipe people out," said Gallia Academy coach Jim Osborne.
Portsmouth falls to 5-6 on the year, 2-4 in the SEOAL. The Blue Devils are 11-3 on the year, 5-1 in the league.
JOSH HICKLE can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 241.
No. 1 singles - Kamal Dayal def. Nick Nelson 6-0, 6-0.
No. 2 singles - Joan Sojka def. Sarah Clayton 6-2, 6-3.
No. 3 singles - Josh Jackson def. Evan Sommer 6-2, 6-1.
No. 1 doubles - Quint Nibert/Jordan Cornwell def. Tommy Khoury/Ian Rowland 7-5, 7-5.
No. 2 doubles - Mollie Blake/Tim Hoffman def. Chase Scott/Gavin Dillow 6-2, 6-3.
Records - Portsmouth 5-6 (2-4), Gallia Academy 11-3 (5-1).