TENNIS Boys from Howland, Ursuline and Canfield ready for state tournament
VINDICATOR STAFF REPORT
COLUMBUS -- Canfield High's Shalin Shah and Chris Kuppler, the Division I district tennis doubles champions, return to Columbus for the state tournament.
They will face junior Fritz Lehman and freshman Nic Newcomb of Worthington Kilbourne in a first-round match Friday at The Ohio State University's Stickney Tennis Center.
Shah and Kuppler will be joined at the tournament by Howland's Kevin and Ryan Trapp, whom the Cardinals defeated in the district final, 6-0, 6-2.
Irish advance: In Div. II, Ursuline will be represented by singles qualifier Donald Person and the doubles team of Todd Wojtkowski and Brian Meek.
The tournament gets underway Friday at 9 a.m.
Shah and Kuppler didn't begin playing doubles together this year until the sectional tournament began. They are unbeaten in doubles with a 7-0 record -- 3-0 in the sectional and 4-0 in the district. They were each undefeated in singles, with 15-0 records.
"They're not having a bad year," said Canfield coach Larry Davis.
Canfield has never had a state doubles champion, but three times they have finished as high as third.
"I think they have a real good shot of getting in the top four," said Davis. "I'll be disappointed if they don't. They'll be disappointed, too. We'd all be disappointed if they don't make the second day there. They're very good. But anything can happen."
To remain alive for the second day, a team must win twice on Friday.
Howland duo: In the Trapp brothers' first state match, they will play Dublin Coffman twins Adam and Michael McDougle.
They are the first Howland doubles team to reach state since Steve Conner-Rick Tvaroch in 1986.
Mark Ciochetto was Howland's last singles player to play at state in 1991.
When the Trapps won the sectional, it marked the first time a Howland team had won at that level since 1978.
Howland coach Ron Saffell, in his 23rd season, said the Trapps are well-rounded players because of "the fact that they have all the shots. They are very complete players, and as a doubles team they have the advantage [by being] brothers of knowing how each other moves and thinks."
Ursuline's Wojtkowski, who was eliminated in the first round of singles at last year's Div. II state tournament, is returning to Columbus -- this time at doubles.
Wojtkowski and Meek will face Bexley High's David Deshe and Jason Edelmen in the first round.
Person will take on sophomore Michael Good of Columbus Academy.
Coach Joanne Gardner, in her third year as Ursuline coach, said, "The boys have been working hard since they've gotten together and have practiced off and on with the Canfield and Howland doubles teams the past three weeks.
"Wojtkowski and Meek are very aggressive players. They have great serves, don't sit back on the baseline and play a power game.
"They are best friends, complement each other's game and keep focused."
One loss: Wojtkowski and Meek enter the state with a 7-1 sectional-district record.
Person (16-3) placed fourth in the district tournament.
Gardner said, "Person is a baseline hitter and very consistent with his style of play. He's quick on the court and mentally tough.
"He has a strong forehand and can hit slices, top-spins and drop-shots consistently. His backhand is adequate."