Jeff Wallner reports:
Mason High School was the epicenter of Ohio high school tennis Saturday morning as the state’s No. 1 ranked teams in both Division I and II competed in the 21st Greater Cincinnati Tennis Coaches Association Classic. While the Mason Comets asserted their dominance in doubles, the Cincinnati Country Day Indians stole the singles show.
In Flight A competition at Mason, CCD senior John Larkin improved to 12-1 this season with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Mason’s Luke Tsai in the first singles finals match. Larkin’s teammate Patrick Wildman remained undefeated with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Comets senior Miguel Cepeda in the second singles final.
Wildman now has defeated Cepeda twice this season, after going winless against him entering the year. “I served well today, and tried to cut down on my unforced errors,” Wildman said. “I wanted to make him beat me. I’ve been working on being more aggressive and moving into the court more.”
Larkin, who admittedly wears his emotions on his sleeve during matches, kept them in check during his match with Tsai. It was the first meeting between Larkin and Tsai, two of the area’s top singles players.
“I just tried to tighten things up mentally,” said Larkin, a Swarthmore (Pa.) College signee. “I give all the credit to Luke. He’s a great player. My forehand and my serve were working well for me. I’m just trying to get better in all areas.”
Mason twice outlasted Sycamore in doubles finals Saturday. The Comets’ duo of junior Alex Lebedev and sophomore Young-Jin Kang defeated Sycamore’s Dylan Stern and Mustafa Ahmad, 7-6, 7-6. “We keep each other together in pressure situations,” Kang said. Lebedev and Kang improved to 12-0.
Mason sophomore Nadim Boulos and freshman Sean Reid edged Sycamore’s Brian Goodman and Alex Taylor 7-6, 7-6. “We always want to have tough doubles teams,” said Mason coach Linda Kirtley.
Kirtley said the camaraderie her team has built over time is among their keys to success. “At the end of practice, they don’t want to go home,” Kirtley said. “They love being on the courts together. They push each other and root for each other.”
Flight A competition included six teams ranked in the top five of the Division I and II state tennis polls, including No. 1 Mason in D-I and top-ranked CCD in D-II. In Division I, Sycamore is ranked No. 2 in the state.
Mason finished first in the Flight A team standings. Sycamore was second and CCD third.
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