The Trojans hosted the Division II Boys Tennis Sectional Tournament on Thursday and Friday with matches being played at Portsmouth's Steven A. Hunter Tennis Center, Shawnee State University's Daehler Tennis Center and eventually the Portsmouth Tennis Academy.
PHS players made use of the home court advantage by advancing two singles players and one doubles team to the district level.
Doubles teams from Minford and Waverly advanced as well.
The highest ranked entity from the local area to advance was the Minford doubles team of Noah Thiel and Logan Conkey. The Falcon pair was the No. 2 seed in sectionals and they will reprise that role at districts after falling to Chillicothe's top tandem in the sectional final.
Thiel is the only SOC champion still alive in the postseason after New Boston's Steven Russell was eliminated in the second round and Valley's SOC doubles winning team of Adam Buckler and Adam Davis was knocked out in round No. 3. The East champion doubles team of Nick Adkins and Alex Lindamood played as singles players and were both eliminated on day one.
The other duo advancing from the SOC was Waverly's Kelton Reiske and Joe Bevens. That duo will be an eight seed at districts.
The tournament that began early Thursday morning ended shortly before 6 p.m. Friday night. The tournament saw a variety of conditions for athletes to adapt to. There were a handful of rain delays, blistering heat in the afternoon, tennis under the lights until very late Thursday and finally indoor play.
One of two matches moved indoors after a late afternoon thunderstorm on Friday was between Portsmouth's Ian Rowland and John Khoury. The two had already qualified for districts but were playing for the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds.
The match between the No. 2-seeded Khoury and unseeded Rowland was shaping up to be an instant classic. Rowland won the first set 7-6 after a 9-7 tiebreaker before Khoury came back to take the second set 7-5. Rowland led in the third set when Khoury withdrew as a result of blisters.
"It was a good tournament. Very tiring though playing five or six matches in two days," Rowland said. "Having to wait because of the rain and everything made it extra tiring. The important thing is that we get to go to districts. For a three and four seed it's not much difference. It's fun to play John. We've been playing for a long time together."
Also of note in that contest, there was a brief power outage during play — lasting about three seconds — resulting in a let.
Rowland and Khoury will be No. 3 and 4 seeds at districts in singles play while their teammates Tanner Hatcher and Trevor Brown will be a No. 7 seed in doubles.
Portsmouth coach Chris Cole was pleased with his team's performance at sectionals.
"We're really proud of the young guys," Cole said. "We have two sophomores (Hatcher and Brown) that went out unseeded without a lot of expectations from other schools... Then we have John our senior. He's been a team leader all year. To see him here is great. He's also one of the reasons Ian is doing so well. He's kind of raised Ian's level by being a team leader... To see them out there together in the last match of the whole tournament playing like this for a three and four seed is just great for everyone involved."
While the tournament features plenty of good tennis, it also served as an opportunity for PHS to show off the new Hunter Tennis Center to teams from all over the region.
"Mark Hunter and the Hunter Foundation helped provide that center and then it's become what it's become and to have Neil Hatcher provide the lights and get to use them during sectionals was a lot of fun," Cole said.
The sectional champion was Phillip Locklear of Circleville while the doubles champions were John Lods and Gabe Seymour of Chillicothe.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org