By Josh Brown
TROY — Seeing a number beside your name on the bracket can have a positive effect on tennis players.
Troy’s two doubles teams, Shane Essick and Andrew Magoteaux as well as Nathan Kleptz and Jackson Goodall, earned the top two seeds entering the Division I sectional tennis tournament, while Elijah Sadler earned the No. 3 seed in the singles bracket. And all three advanced to next week’s district tournament, reaching Saturday’s sectional semifinal round by cruising through play on Wednesday at Troy High School and Troy Community Park.
“That’s what we were hoping for,” Troy coach Mark Goldner said. “I’m glad for Elijah, that he got through, and just looking at the draw I figured both our doubles teams would get through. This time of the season, it’s how we play (that matters). We’ve got to come out and play aggressive.”
For Sadler, the seed wasn’t necessarily the biggest help — he qualified for the district tournament in singles last season, as well, as the No. 4 seed. That confidence, in addition to getting the No. 3 seed this year, helped carry him through the day’s play, though.
“Yeah, getting to districts last year and me knowing that this year gave me confidence,” he said. “Last year, I kind of lacked the confidence and kind of struggled and had to fight to keep myself going. This year, I had a more calm demeanor, and I just played point by point and kept pushing on. I believed I could get to districts this year because I know I’ve already done it, so it kept me calm, it kept me collected and it kept me driven.”
Sadler defeated Tecumseh’s Jacob Lewis 6-1, 6-0 in his first match of the day then blanked Wayne’s Luke Curtin 6-0, 6-0 to earn a spot in the quarterfinal round against Springfield’s Ethan Cundiff. And by the time that match started, the morning’s cooler temperatures had given way to the hottest day of the season so far, but Sadler fought through it for a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
“That’s how it works. You’ve got to add 30 degrees to the morning temperature,” Sadler said with a chuckle and deep breath. “Sore, hot and exhausted.”
Sadler will face the No. 2 seed, Butler’s Brandon Kreger — who he beat in three sets in last year’s quarterfinal round to qualify for district — in Saturday’s semifinal round. It’s the second straight district trip for Sadler in singles but third overall, as he went in doubles as a freshman.
Essick and Magoteaux, meanwhile, were Troy’s first and third singles players all season, respectively, and both are district regulars and own sectional championships previous years, with Essick having won in singles and Magoteaux in doubles.
“Well, the last three years playing singles haven’t gone as planned. Getting to state was the goal,” Essick said. “So I figured why not go out playing with my best friend Andrew, who’s been with me since freshman year.”
“I think we’re a good duo,” Magoteaux said,” We’re friends, so that makes it easy. And our goal is to make state.”
Essick and Magoteaux cruised for the most part, sweeping Tecumseh’s Siroin and Williamson 6-0, 6-0 in their first match and then defeating Trotwood’s Foster and Moss 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinal round to advance to Saturday’s semis, where they will face the No. 3 seed, Sidney’s Mani and Urata.
“It was a little shaky,” Essick said. “I don’t think we played our best tennis — but it was only our third match together total. But overall, there’s still some things we can work on, so we’ve just got to work on those before Saturday.”
“We felt pretty good after playing Mason (Tuesday). That was a good practice match for today. And today was a good opportunity to practice some shots. We feel pretty good. We’re going to hit a little Thursday and Friday and be ready for Saturday.”
And Kleptz and Goodall — the only non-seniors in the Trojans’ varsity lineup — had an easy day, as well. Troy’s first doubles team during the regular season, the duo blanked Fairborn’s Nguyen and Smith 6-0, 6-0 and Tecumseh’s Sinkhorn and Randenburg 6-0, 6-0 to qualify for district and advance to the semis, where they will face the No. 4 seed, Northmont’s Daniel and Correll.
“It feels great. It’s good to go back (to district),” said Kleptz, who teamed up with Magoteaux last year to qualify. “It was good to get two 6-0, 6-0 wins today.”
“And it’s good to go for my first time,” Goodall said. “We had a rough match Monday (against Springfield) where we didn’t play our best. But it felt pretty good (to be seeded), because I didn’t really know who was in our sectional. When I saw that we were second and the only people ahead of us were Shane and Andrew, it made me feel pretty good.”
“Yeah, that made me feel the same way,” Kleptz said. “We feel good. Hopefully we can play the other Troy team and play for some bragging rights.”
And even though the Trojans had the same goal last year heading into the sectional semifinals — make the title match an all-Troy final — they still both have one more match to focus on before getting there.
“They’ve both got pretty tough semifinal matches,” Goldner said. “We were pretty impressed watching Northmont. They’re going to have to be ready to play on Saturday.”
Troy’s second doubles team of John Wehrkamp and Anoop Patel split up to play in the singles bracket for the tournament, and both had solid performances to go out on.
Patel won a pair of matches and reached the quarterfinal round, defeating Trotwood’s Jayvanarre Nelloms 6-2, 6-3 and Sidney’s Jersain Brux 6-1, 6-1 before running into the tournament’s No. 1 seed, Tecumseh’s Mitchell Foland, who defeated him 6-1, 6-1.
And Wehrkamp, who joined the tennis team just this season as a senior, won a prelim 6-1, 6-1 over Northmont’s Gavin Lucas before facing Butler’s Kreger. Wehrkamp won the first set and looked poised to pull an upset, but Kreger rallied and Wehrkamp ran out of gas in a 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 loss.
“Anoop won two matches and had to play the No. 1 seed, so he did very well,” Goldner said. “And John won a prelim on Saturday and then, to take the second seed to three sets, what more can you ask for? I was very happy with that.”
And for Piqua, Sean Hatke defeated Wayne’s Andrew Wong 6-0, 6-0 before falling 6-0, 5-0 (ret.) to Sidney’s Prem Dev, the No. 4 seed. Demi Nicholas lost to Bellefontaine’s Maverick Calton 6-2, 7-6 (1). The doubles team of Alex Rossman and Ethan Gevedon lost to Trotwood’s Foster and Moss 6-0, 6-0, and the doubles team of Stephen Dolder and Ryn Parker lost to Tecumseh’s Sinkhorn and Randenburg 6-0, 6-0.
Saturday’s semifinal round begins at 9 a.m. at Troy Community Park.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.