Throughout the duration of their careers, Clay’s Nate Hinze and Wheelersburg’s Drew Jackson have been highly regarded as two of the best tennis talents in the Scioto County area.
The duo continued their excellent play as Hinze and fellow teammate Gage Keller, who starred with Hinze in doubles play, allowed the pair to take home a sectional runner-up finish in the Division II Southeast District Sectional Tournament Doubles Bracket, while Jackson took home a third-place showing in the Division II Southeast District Sectional Tournament Singles Bracket.
In addition to the trio, Wheelersburg’s top doubles unit in Ben Allen and Nic Jones, along with the play of New Boston’s R.J. Hayes in the singles tourney, allowed Allen, Jones, and Hayes to join the aforementioned trio of players in qualifying for the Division II District Tournament — which will be held on Saturday, May 20 on the campus of Ohio University in Athens and combines the singles and doubles qualifiers from the East and Southeast District.
On the singles side of the bracket — which was played at Shawnee State University on Monday and Wednesday — Hayes and Jackson proved to be tough outs throughout the duration of singles action. Hayes gave Waverly’s Brandon Nibert a run in the sectional quarterfinals before falling 6-1, 6-3, and then faced Ken Upthegrove from Washington Court House, with Hayes falling to Upthegrove, 6-2, 6-2. The New Boston standout still earned a No. 7 seed for his play throughout the senior’s exceptional tournament run.
Jackson, however, fared even better.
The sophomore sensation swept Marietta’s Jacob Freeland in the first round of play without losing a set, 6-0, 6-0, and followed that exceptional effort up by taking sectional tournament champion and Miami Trace hand Juan Navas to his limits.
Unfortunately, despite Jackson’s gargantuan efforts, Navas ultimately prevailed, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the sectional title bout, where Navas defeated Connor Radune of Jackson, 6-4, 6-2, to win the singles title. However, the sophomore hand responded to his semifinal loss against Navas with a big 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 victory over SOC II rival Nibert to clinch the No. 3 seed for district play on May 20.
In doubles action, Clay’s and Wheelersburg’s top doubles pairings were stout throughout the duration of the doubles tournament, as the Allen/Jones pairing made quick work of Gallia Academy, 6-0, 6-2, and Jackson’s doubles pairing of Travis Stevens and Zayne Warrens, 6-1, 6-3, while Hinze and Keller outlasted Marietta, along with a tough Miami Trace squad, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, to set up a sectional quarterfinal date with each other.
In that sectional quarterfinal matchup, both teams fought vigorously against the other as the two remaining Scioto County doubles squads duked it out over 24 grueling sets. However, the abilities of Hinze and Keller eventually won out, as the pair clipped Allen and Jones, 8-6, 6-4, to advance into the sectional semifinals.
There, Hinze and Keller continued their magic.
After falling by a 6-1 tally in the first set, the duo showed excellent resiliency by taking the remaining pair of sets, 6-2, 6-4, over Logan Elm’s Avery Clouse and Jonathan Reisinger to advance to the sectional finals.
While their run ended with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat to Miguel Velasco and Pierce Wilcoxon in the title match, the pair garnered a No. 2 seed with their efforts and put themselves in an excellent position heading into the May 20th tournament. Allen and Jones capped off the strong Scioto County presence in the field by nabbing a No. 6 seed behind a victory over Unioto’s Brayden Warren and Brett Moore, 6-2, 6-4 in a consolation bracket affair.