By Josh Brown
TROY — After a milestone victory the previous week, Troy tennis coach Mark Goldner found his Trojans in an unfamiliar position.
Without any district qualifiers.
The Trojans saw little successes but struggled overall at the first day of the Division I sectional tournament Wednesday at Troy High School and Troy Community Park, not being able to qualify anyone to next week’s district tournament despite entering the day with one seeded singles player and one seeded doubles team.
It was a particularly strange turn given that the team went 12-5 over the course of the regular season — and with that 12th win of the year over Piqua on Thursday gave Goldner his 800th career victory with the Troy boys and girls teams combined.
“I’m always disappointed when we don’t take someone to district,” Goldner said. “I think it’s only the second time it’s happened in the last 11 years for the girls. I think it was the first year I coached the girls, 11 years ago I first started coaching the girls and we didn’t qualify anybody.
“The frustration for me was, I never fault our effort, but our execution just never seemed to get better. It just did not seem to happen this year, for whatever reason, and that’s what’s been frustrating for me.”
Troy’s first doubles team of Cady Rhea and Kit Wolke, the No. 4 seed in the doubles bracket, had the best day for the Trojans, getting to the quarterfinal round before falling short in three sets. After a first-round bye, the duo began play with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Piqua’s Ryan and Ramirez to reach the quarterfinal round. To get to district, Rhea and Wolke needed to beat the all-senior team of Northmont’s Jenkins and Peters — a match that ended up going three sets, with two of those being tiebreakers.
In the end, though, Jenkins and Peters, the Thunderbolts’ second and third singles players, pulled out a 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory despite Rhea and Wolke fighting off a total of eight match points in the final set.
“In the third set, we missed a couple easy ones that could’ve changed it to 4-3 instead of 5-2,” Goldner said. “From there, if we end up winning the next game, woulda coulda shoulda been 4-all and the pressure’s all on Northmont. They did (fight), and it was maybe the best match they’ve played together all year. They played a second and third singles player from Northmont, and they hung right in there.
“It’s just too bad. A shot or two here or there … but it didn’t happen, unfortunately for us.”
Troy’s other seeded player, Katie Sherrick — a senior, Troy’s first singles player and the No. 4 seed in the singles bracket — began her day strong after a first-round bye with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Trotwood’s Aaliyah Gooley, but then she faced Sidney’s Kara Mays in the third round and lost 6-2, 6-3.
“I don’t think Katie had one of her best days,” Goldner said. “And when you play somebody that keeps hitting a lot of balls back in, you’ve got to hit some winners. When you get some put-away balls, you’ve got to put them away. And a lot of those things did not happen in that match.
“She was up 2-1 in the first set, and that was the last lead she had. If you can stay ahead of somebody that just pushes the ball and keeps it in play, you can still kind of dictate things. But once you get behind, you get a little tight. And that happened a little bit today.”
Troy’s other senior and second singles player, Hailey Taylor, also had a first-round bye and took on Sidney’s first singles player, Hailey New, in the second round, playing one of her best matches of the year in a 6-1, 6-3 win. In the next round, though, she fell to Butler’s Erin Dean 6-2, 6-2.
And Mackenzie Nosker, Troy’s third singles player, defeated Sidney’s Mara Hecht 6-2, 6-4 in a prelim, then she swept Stebbins’ Kara Jenkins 6-4, 6-1 to begin Tuesday. She faced Butler’s Xia Lin, the No. 1 seed in the singles bracket, in the third round, though, falling 6-0, 6-0.
“Hailey beat Sidney’s No. 1 and then lost to the Butler girl that beat her during the regular season,” Goldner said. “And Mackenzie won a prelim Monday, beat Stebbins today and then lost to the No. 1 seed out of Butler. Can’t complain about that.”
Esha Patel and Ainsley Savard, Troy’s second doubles team, cruised past Trotwood’s Wolfe and Davis 6-0, 6-0 in the first round to earn a shot against the No. 3 seed, Tecumseh’s Beel and Bush. The Trojan youngsters won the first set but dropped the next two to fall 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“They won their first match and then took a seed to three sets,” Goldner said. “They’re young, first year of experience, so hats off to them. They played well, they just ran out of gas a little. I think the inexperience maybe caught up with them.”
Which all left Goldner feeling good about aspects of the day’s performances — but also knowing that he and his Trojans could have felt better.
“You say at the end of the year ‘are we better than we were at the beginning of the season.’ Yeah, we were, but if we executed better, we could’ve been a whole lot better,” Goldner said. “I was a little disappointed.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.