Throughout its history as a sport in Scioto County, the game of tennis has never failed to disappoint as far as great young talent is concerned.
On Monday and Tuesday, that point proved to be no different as the play of several Scioto County hands stood out in a major way in the Division II Southeast District Sectional Tournament that was held on the Portsmouth High School and Shawnee State University campuses.
Wheelersburg’s Drew Jackson and Clay’s Gage Keller obtained top-four seeds in the upcoming Division II East/Southeast District Singles Tournament while Minford’s Caden Wilcox and Portsmouth’s Logan Carter joined the duo in qualifying for district competition in singles play, and in doubles, the units of Minford’s Josh Wiehle and Zac Hammond, Valley’s Nate Crabtree and Brandon Phillips, and Portsmouth’s Allison Douthat and Luke Rodbell all qualified for doubles competition following the conclusion of the tournament on Tuesday afternoon to give Scioto County strong representation at the upcoming district tournament, which will be held in Athens next week.
Jackson, who qualified for the OHSAA Division II State Tennis Tournament last spring, got his postseason off to an excellent start by collecting back-to-back 6-0, 6-0 margins of victory to qualify for district competition The junior then not only added a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Logan Elm to follow that up, but nearly obtained the No. 1 overall seed for the East/Southeast District Tournament by adding a third 6-0, 6-0 victory over Gallia Academy’s Pierce Wilcoxson. Only a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Waverly’s Brandon Nibert — the same person that Jackson beat to obtain the SOC II Player of the Year Award in singles play — kept Jackson from obtaining a No. 1 overall seed.
Keller, who, like Jackson, qualified for a Division II State Tennis Tournament but did so with Nate Hinze on the doubles side, didn’t slow down, either. The sophomore standout ultimately claimed victories of 6-3, 6-2 and 6-0, 6-1 to qualify for district competition, then scored a very impressive victory by nailing down the No. 4 overall seed with his 6-0, 7-6 victory over Minford’s Caden Wilcox. Despite the loss, Wilcox was able to lock himself in as the No. 6 overall seed with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over East’s Kyle Flannery, a 6-1, 6-1 win over New Boston’s Jaycee Carter, and a comeback 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory to reach sectional tournament play as well.
Carter, who like Jackson, Keller, and Wilcox before him, went wire-to-wire as his unit’s No. 1 singles player, started off an especially sweet day for Portsmouth by avenging a 1-6 first set loss to take home wins of 6-3, 6-4, then sprinkled in a 7-5, 6-4 victory to round out the Division II East/Southeast District qualifiers for Scioto County. The senior and multi-sport athlete will be the No. 8 seed in next week’s district tourney.
In addition to the aforementioned quartet, Minford’s Sam Wiehle and Wheelersburg’s Luke May each came within one victory of qualifying for districts, with May grabbing 6-2, 6-2 and 6-0, 6-0 victories over Portsmouth’s Ethan Haas and Valley’s Hudson Oyer, respectively and Wiehle adding in wins over West’s Joel Durant (6-4, 6-1) and Unioto (6-1, 6-2).
Doubles play also proved to be fruitful for Scioto County, as Minford, Valley, and Portsmouth each put their No. 1 doubles units into district competition with their victories in sectional play on Monday and Tuesday.
Wiehle and Hammond led the way as the Falcons’ top doubles unit scored a straight set (6-0, 6-0) victory over Regan Osborn and Alicia Bobst, then added an impressive 6-4, 6-3 victory over Waverly’s Braydon Stultz and Chase Workman to reach district play and garner a No. 6 overall seed, with Wiehle avenging his brother’s fate in doing so.
Douthat and Rodbell, who, like Wiehle and Hammond, obtained a first round bye, claimed victories of 6-1, 6-2 and 6-0, 6-0 over doubles units from Circleville and Hillsboro, respectively, to get the No. 7 overall seed, while Crabtree and Phillips, who also obtained a first round bye, notched victories of 6-0, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-3 to garner the No. 8 overall seed by defeating doubles teams from Unioto and Washington Court House.
In addition to the above efforts, Valley’s No. 2 doubles unit of Landon McBee and Rylee Holbrook, along with the No. 1 doubles units of West (Kane Lewis and Matt Campbell) and Notre Dame (Spencer Wilcox and Joyce Zheng) all came within one victory of qualifying for district play. McBee and Holbrook took home 6-3, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-1 victories before falling to Logan Elm’s No. 2 doubles team, while Lewis and Campbell collected 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-1 victories before dropping a bout to the Braves’ primary doubles unit. Wilcox and Zheng, who collected a bye in the tournament, obtained a 6-2, 6-1 victory before falling to Miami Trace’s No. 2 doubles unit.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT