Editor’s Note: It was incorrectly stated that Wheelersburg’s Drew Jackson has qualified for the OHSAA Division II State Tennis Tournament in all three seasons of his high school career. Jackson actually qualified in 2016 and this past season only.
Over the past three years, Wheelersburg standout Drew Jackson has been one of the most valued commodities across the board in either the OHSAA East or Southeast District realm.
The junior, who holds an astounding 77-8 record over his three-year high school career and has won the SOC’s Player of the Year Award in each of his three seasons in a Wheelersburg uniform, qualified for the OHSAA Division II State Tournament last Saturday as the junior won the Division II East/Southeast District Tournament in fine fashion with his play at the Ohio University Tennis Center in Athens.
Jackson, who received a first round bye along with his fellow SOC II rival Brandon Nibert, defeated Steubenville Catholic Central’s Mike Irvin, 6-2, 6-3 en route to fighting off a tough challenge, then defeated Claymont’s Pau Caudet in a gritty 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 battle to clinch a qualifying berth in the state tournament. Jackson then took the Division II East/Southeast District Championship by default due to an injury that was suffered by Nibert.
According to Wheelersburg head coach Becky Jackson, who is also Drew’s mother, Jackson is the first male tennis player from Wheelersburg to reach two single tournaments in singles play, and only the third player in Wheelersburg boys tennis history to advance to the state tennis tournament. Dustin Burleson and Arron Burleson, who both advanced one time each in singles and doubles, were the additional pair of standouts to advance.
In addition to winning 25 games apiece in each of his three seasons as a varsity athlete, Jackson put together undefeated campaigns in both of his freshman and sophomore years before splitting both regular season matches against Nibert earlier this season. He is an astounding 58-0 against non-state qualifiers, and, more impressively, a strong 19-8 against state qualifiers for his career, and has finished at least second or better in the sectional and the district in his freshman and junior seasons.
On Friday, Jackson, who faced Hamilton Badin’s Noah Connaughton in the opening round of the 2016 OHSAA Division II Tennis Tournament, will face Lexington’s Benton Drake, the third qualifier out of the Northwest District, at the very bottom of the bracket in the first round.
The winner of that match will play either Cincinnati Indian Hill’s Andrew Pregel or Warren John F. Kennedy’s Armand Nannicola for the right to advance to the semifinals of the OHSAA Division II Tournament, which, along with the state title and third place matches, will be played on Saturday morning. Jackson will look to become the first player to win a match at state in singles since Ironton’s Lovell Medcalf in 2007.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT