Jarrod Ulrey reports:
Mason junior Miguel Cepeda and sophomore Luke Tsai were determined to not be content with reaching the championship match of the Division I state doubles tournament Saturday at Ohio State.
After needing three sets to beat Sycamore’s team of junior Yuri Karev and freshman Nakul Narendran at the sectional tournament, Cepeda and Tsai quickly found their groove and easily won the rematch against the duo 6-1, 6-1 to capture the title.
Cepeda and Tsai became the first boys tennis players from the program to reach a state final a year ago when they lost to Upper Arlington’s Billy Weldon and Stu Little 6-3, 6-1.
“It feels great,” Cepeda said. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, but when we look back on the whole season, it’s going to be like, ‘Wow, we really accomplished something.’”
Cepeda and Tsai needed three sets to beat New Albany’s Oliver Sybert and Alex Kobelt 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) during Friday’s second round. Then in their state semifinal, Cepeda and Tsai defeated the Sycamore doubles team of juniors Dylan Stern and Nikhil Grandhi 6-3, 6-4 to reach the championship match.
“Last year we were kind of happy just to be in the final, and this year we had a pretty tough second round,” Tsai said. “We had to save two match points to (beat New Albany). We knew we just had to be aggressive today.”
“They were definitely being more aggressive,” coach Linda Kirtley said. “We’ve never even been to the final before last year, so we’ve definitely come a long way.”
Coming up just short of a championship for the third consecutive season was Lakota East senior Zach Mueck.
After finishing as runner-up each of the past two seasons, Mueck needed three sets to beat Perrysburg’s Jeffrey Schorsch (6-2, 1-6, 6-2) and again reach the final.
Then facing Westlake senior Colton Buffington, he couldn’t overcome a slow start and lost 6-2, 6-3.
Buffington, who lost to Mueck 6-4, 6-2 in a semifinal in 2010, built a 4-0 lead in the first set. Then in the second set, Mueck led 2-0 but couldn’t keep it going against the fresher Buffington.
Buffington won all four of his state matches in straight sets.
Mueck is planning to take a short break before setting off to play for Xavier University next year.