DISTRICT TENNIS Trapps, Shah lose title matches
The Poland doubles team of Colin Larouere and Rodrigo Catunda finished third.
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ROCKY RIVER -- Howland High sophomore Ryan Trapp qualified for the state tennis tournament last season with doubles partner and brother Kevin.
Ryan is going again as a second seed, this time with brother Jason, a junior.
The Trapp brothers rolled through St. Ignatius 6-0, 6-2 in the Division I semifinals Saturday before losing to Shaker Heights 6-2, 6-2 in the title match at Tri-City Park.
"They blew past St. Ignatius and were really playing fine," said Barb Trapp, Howland coach and mother. "Then they changed to indoors and for some reason things didn't go well."
For one, Ryan suffered a nosebleed when he was hit with a return volley.
"It hurt my concentration. I couldn't think as well," said Ryan, whose team trailed 2-1 in the first set when the injury occurred.
Jason said, "It seemed to go downhill from there."
Still, the brothers admitted, they were facing strong competition in Shaker Heights' John Goheen and Matt Smith.
"We felt more confident in the first match," Ryan said. "We were a little bit nervous in the second match because I knew how good they were."
Now it's a matter of preparing for the state tournament held Friday and Saturday at Ohio State's Stickney Tennis Center in Columbus.
It will be Jason's first.
"I always wanted to go," Jason said. "My dad would take us down to watch. It's pretty cool now that we're there playing."
Canfield's Shalin Shah
Standing between Canfield senior Shalin Shah and a district championship was Chardon's Stephen Rozek, whom Canfield coach Larry Davis calls a favorite to win a state title.
Rozek beat Shah 6-0, 6-3 to claim the singles title at Tri-City Park.
"Supposedly he's the best kid in the state," Shah said. "He just overpowered me."
In his 6-4, 6-4 semifinal victory over Medina's Patrick Thompson, Shah proved to himself that he could overcome top competition, since he "didn't beat anyone good in a long time."
"I played consistently and smart," he said.
Shah advanced to state one year after he and Chris Kuppler finished second in doubles.
"It's a new experience," Shah said of singles. "I wanted to play singles before I graduated so I wouldn't have to look back and say I never played."
Davis said, "It's natural for a good player, at some point, to test the waters and see what he can do."
MASSILLON -- Headed to its first state tennis tournament, the Poland boys doubles team of seniors Colin Larouere and Rodrigo Catunda earned a third seed in Division II by splitting two district matches Saturday in Massillon and North Canton.
Larouere and Catunda defeated University School's Sammy Sidu and Adam Oesterie 6-4, 6-1 in the third-place match at the North Canton Racquet Club.
"It's good to get this three seed so we don't have to play a No. 1 at state. It was a crucial match," said Larouere, who, with Catunda, qualified for state on Thursday.
Impressive in Poland's seeding was the way Larouere and Catunda responded after losing 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) to Beachwood's Mike Aronson and Reid Syneneerg at the Massillon Jackson Community Courts.
"They had a rough start in the morning," Poland coach Janice Wilson said.
Larouere said, "We weren't warmed up. We came out cold like we never hit a ball before. It was pretty ugly at the start."
The 45 minutes between matches proved important for the Bulldogs.
"We took a drive to calm them down and talk about it," Wilson said. "They knew they didn't want to go [to state] as a four seed."
Mistakes in which the team made early in the day -- problems with serving and failure to put easy shots away -- were gone by the second match.
"They played their game the second half of the day," Wilson said. "Their volleys were strong and they were getting their first serves in."
The state tournament is the first for Larouere and Catunda, a foreign exchange student from Brazil.
In the beginning, Catunda didn't understand the magnitude of his team's accomplishment. He does now.
"When we started to play, I didn't think we'd go that far. Then we started winning those matches," he said. "I'm going to state. It's a big thing for me."