A total of 14 Holmes County tennis players set sail with their hopes firmly entrenched on surviving the East District Tennis Sectional at Dover Park Monday, May 9.
Having to fend off threatening weather, the tournament actually made it through the day without getting wet, but only one of the 14 was able to find his way to the district competition.
West Holmes senior Ethan Meyer carved up a couple of players on his way to qualifying for the district matches, becoming the lone Hiland or West Holmes athlete to secure a spot.
Meyer, a two-time state qualifier in doubles play over the past two seasons, is striking out on his own this year, and if early success is any indication, he should vie for a spot there again.
Meyer had little trouble advancing to districts, whipping St. Clairsville’s Daniel Trouten in the second round 6-2, 6-1 after receiving a bye in the opening round. He then disposed of Mason Long of Cambridge 6-3, 6-0 in the quarterfinals to secure a spot in the final four, all of whom will advance to district play.
Overall, there was very little suspense in the singles play, as all four of the top seeds did exactly what they were supposed to do in reaching the semifinals. That list included Cambridge sophomore Joe Goggin, as well as senior Austin Douglass and junior Brendan Ryan, both of St. Clairsville.
Hiland’s Charlie Schlabach, a senior trying to earn an upset and make it out of sectionals, opened the tournament with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Inigo Urbieta of Indian Creek, while West Holmes’ Eric Biltz also won his opening match, gaining a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Coshocton’s Lukas Zitsch. Those two then squared off in round two, where the two waged an epic fight before Schlabach eventually pounded a 6-4, 6-3 victory. His reward was facing the white-hot Douglass, who ended Schlabach’s career with a 6-0, 6-1 loss.
Hiland senior Logan Weaver also tasted success early on, hammering west Holmes’ Garrett Gallion 6-0, 6-0. His tournament was cut short when Ryan turned the tables and dealt him a 6-0, 6-0 defeat.
Hiland junior Grant Gingerich looked as though he was on the verge of moving on against Cambridge sophomore Mason Long, but he too was derailed in the opening round. Gingerich won the opening set 6-4 before dropping the next two sets 6-4, 6-1 to end his season.
In doubles play, it was not a good day for the locals. John Hipp and Nathan Hartley received a bye in the first round, but were disposed of by a score of 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 by St. Clairsville’s Nick Nickoloff and Andrew Landeen, in what was one of the more entertaining matches of the day.
In another suspenseful match, the local team again got the wrong end of the stick. Hiland’s do of Joey Miller and Timothy Schlabach took game one 6-4 in their opening match against Coshocton’s Gage Bosson and Braden Wheeler, but the Redskins eventually pulled themselves together and carved out a 6-4, 6-4 win over the final two games to move on.
Another opening round match saw West Holmes’ Jason Abraham and Megan Morrison take on Hiland’s Pat Miller and Terrell Hostetler. The Hawks would emerge victorious in this one, winning 6-2, 6-3.
Miller and Hostetler did not hang around long, dropping their next match to the tournament’s number two-seeded team of Clay Macauley and Andrew Eddy, who whipped the Hawks 6-2, 6-1.
Meyers’ seeding round was pushed back by rain, so his attempt to gain a number one seed will wait until Wednesday, May 11, when he will compete in the sectional semifinal matches.