By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy’s top-seeded doubles team of Shane Essick and Andrew Magoteaux needed a wake-up call.
The Trojans’ other doubles team of Nathan Kleptz and Jackson Goodall provided one.
In an all-Troy matchup for the sectional championship, the younger duo of Kleptz and Goodall — the No. 2 seed — routed Essick and Magoteaux in the first set, but that woke the seniors up en route to a three-set victory at the Division I sectional tournament Saturday at Troy Community Park, with Kleptz and Goodall, as well as Elijah Sadler in singles, claiming runner-up finishes and No. 2 seeds heading into next week’s district tournament.
Essick and Magoteaux had a relatively easy semifinal match to start the day, defeating Sidney’s Akansh Mani and Daichi Urata 6-3, 6-3, while Kleptz and Goodall recovered after dropping the first set to Northmont’s Cameron Daniel and Matthew Correll, gutting out a second-set tiebreaker to even up the match and winning in three, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4.
That tough matchup helped Kleptz and Goodall heading into their matchup against Essick and Magoteaux, though, as they won the first set 6-1.
“Yeah, for sure, they were still feeding off of the momentum of that last match,” Essick said. “They really came out in the first set and just messed us up. They were playing really well, and that hour-and-a-half waiting time got to us.”
From there, though, Essick and Magoteaux took charge, winning the second and third sets 6-3, 6-3 to claim the sectional title.
“We weren’t prepared in that first set, and it was a wake-up call,” Magoteaux said. “We weren’t as serious as we should have been, and they’ve been playing together all year.”
“We went in with a ton of momentum from that first match,” Kleptz said. “You could tell in that first set, but then their experience carried them through. And we got a little tired, too. But it felt good (to get a set from them). That was probably the best tennis we’ve played all year.”
“Shane and Andrew got down 3-1 in that second set,” Troy coach Mark Goldner said. “If it would’ve gone to 4-2 in favor of the sophomores, it could’ve been a different story. But the seniors, to their credit, with their experience, they held it together and went up 4-3 and the momentum switched. But it was a win-win for us either way, and I’m sure the sophomores are happy that they won a set off of them.”
It was the first sectional title in doubles for Essick, who had won two straight titles in singles entering the season.
“It’s a better feeling, because I get to share it with my best friend Andrew,” Essick. “Especially as seniors, last time going out, it’s just special.”
Kleptz and Goodall, meanwhile, will take a No. 2 seed into next week’s district tournament. It will be Kleptz’s second straight appearance and the first for Goodall, both sophomores.
“After what I saw last year at districts, seeding really matters,” Kleptz said. “It can be the difference in making it past the first round, so I’ll take it.”
“Am I scared of the Cincinnati teams? Yes,” Goodall said with a laugh. “It’ll be fun to watch the super competitive matches, and it would be fun to play another team like Shane and Andrew, see how we come out.”
In singles, Sadler, who entered as the No. 3 seed, took on No. 2 Brandon Kreger from Butler — the same player he defeated in the quarterfinal round last season to qualify for the district tournament — in the semifinal match. And Sadler came out on top again, defeating Kreger in three hard-fought sets, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to earn a shot at the top seed, Tecumseh’s Mitchell Foland, for the sectional title.
And even though Foland won the first set 6-2, Sadler fought back from deficits of 4-1 and 5-2 in the second set to force a tiebreaker, eventually falling 7-6 (2).
“Honestly, I feel like in the first set I didn’t play as strong as I could have, but I really brought my game up and made him work for it,” Sadler said. “I won a hard two-and-a-half hour match, and in the match for first place I felt like I gave a good performance given the circumstances.”
“Elijah, he just kind of ran out of gas,” Goldner said. “But going 7-6 in that second set with Foland, I was definitely proud of his effort. He gives you effort in every match, and he gets out of here with a No. 2 seed. We go one, two two today — that’s pretty good.”
Sadler, another senior qualified for district for the third time in his career, also qualifying in singles last season and getting the No. 4 seed — and he was definitely happy with earning a No. 2 seed.
“It gives me a little more comfort knowing I’ll have a better chance of progressing past the first round at districts,” Sadler said. “Last year, I got knocked out in the first round. If I can do a little better this year, I call that a win.”
The district tournament begins at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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