Two doubles teams and one singles player will play in Columbus this weekend.
By MARK W. MILLER
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Shalin Shah (16-4), a senior at Canfield High, will be playing in the 83rd state tennis tournament, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Ohio State University's Stickney Tennis Center.
A Division I district runner-up, he has qualified for the state tournament four years in a row.
Last year, Shah and Chris Kuppler finished second in doubles.
"The pressure is on because it's my last year," Shah said. "My goal is to at least make it to the semifinals."
Shah is ranked 23rd nationally in the 16-year-old division and competes in nine United States Tennis Association tournaments each year. He began playing tennis at age 7 and was competing in tournaments by 10.
"I'll spend two hours a day preparing for state," Shah said. "I'll work on ground stroke drills, service and service returns one day and then the next day play a couple sets.
"Tennis is fun, it's not all physical, because you must be [mentally ready]," said Shah, who carries a 3.4 grade point average.
Canfield coach Larry Davis said, "Shalin has a very good mind for the game. He's an excellent strategist with powerful, accurate ground strokes, and a good serve.
"His experience gives him tennis savvy, and he's been a tournament player throughout the USTA program."
"He is able to adapt and think his way through matches. He isn't hung up on one style of play, and he can adapt to other guys' weaknesses. One of his losses was to last year's state finalist, and two were to the kid that is probably favored to win the state title," Davis added.
Also going to state are two Howland brothers.
Jason Trapp, a junior, played No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles, and his brother Ryan played No. 1 singles for Howland during the season.
The Trapps (8-1) played doubles in sectional and district tournaments and earned a berth for state.
Ryan and another brother, Kevin, advanced to state a year ago and lost in the first round.
Jason said, "We practice together, and we know each other's game. Ryan is a little bit better than I am at all parts of the game."
Ryan started playing tennis when he was 6-years old.
"We belong to Avalon and in the winter they put up a bubble, and we hit tennis there about six times a week and practice about an hour," Jason said.
"My approach shots are one of my strong points, and the rest of my game is average."
Not just tennis
Jason plays on the Tigers' golf team and averages 41 for nine holes. He is a member of the school's Spanish club, belongs to the Howland National Honor Society and carries a 3.7 GPA.
Ryan, who competes with the Tigers' cross country and track and field teams in the distance races and carries a 3.1 GPA, has been playing tennis for six years.
"We know our strong points and weak points and when were in matches we try to exploit our opponents' weakness," Ryan said.
Their father, James Trapp, who played tennis at Ohio State from 1971-76, is the Howland coach.
"Jason has become a good tennis player and has improved tremendously over the past year. I put him against the toughest No. 3 singles in the area," Trapp said. "And when I wanted to win doubles matches, I put him there because I knew we would win."
"Ryan was a natural from the start," Trapp added. "He always had his head on his shoulders. He plays very aggressive tennis and is adaptable to what he has to do to win."
In Division II, senior Colin Laroure and Rodrigo Catunda, a senior exchange student from Brazil, were Poland's No. 1 and No. 2 singles players during the season.
Laroure qualified for the district singles competition three years in a row and wanted to try doubles this year for the sectional tournament.
"The boys (7-1) are very strong and have a lot of speed," Poland coach Janice Wilson said. "Their volley and baseline shots are exceptional.
"Both are strong servers, and they return service with little difficulty," Wilson said.