Oakwood doubles team among state tennis qualifiers from area

Noah Boyce (left) and Max McCloskey (right) pictured with Oakwood teammate Andrew Rich - Contributed

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Noah Boyce (left) and Max McCloskey (right) pictured with Oakwood teammate Andrew Rich - Contributed

Xenia Christian and Springboro also will be represented in Mason

Noah Boyce and Max McCloskey weren’t used to sharing the court, but teaming up has been a successful endeavor for the Oakwood tennis players.

Boyce, a sophomore, and McCloskey, a junior, will compete Friday in the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. It’s Boyce’s second appearance and McCloskey’s first at the state tournament. The duo is seeded third in the Division II doubles event.

“I knew we had the best chance of making it as far as possible in doubles,” Boyce said.

With that goal in mind, Boyce and McCloskey, who split duties at first and second singles during the regular season, set out to develop their doubles game during the postseason.

“We’ve been working with pros and coaches and practicing every day,” McCloskey said. “I’ve definitely seen my doubles game improve.”

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Despite their doubles inexperience, communication has been a strength for the Oakwood team.

“We’re pretty close on an off the court so that helps a lot as far our ability to communicate and strategize,” McCloskey said.

Fine tuning their doubles strategy has been a priority.

“If you can control the net, you’re likely to win the point,” Boyce said. “We both know what we need to do, now we just need to do it.”

The Oakwood doubles players aren’t the only Miami Valley competitors heading to Mason for the state tournament. Xenia Legacy Christian freshman Tucker Culpepper will compete in the D-II singles competition, while Springboro siblings Sai and Rishi Dore qualified in D-I singles.

While Culpepper, 15, is a rookie in the high school ranks, he has been on the court since he was just 5 years old. He compiled a 15-1 record this season, with his only loss coming in the district final.

Making it to state was his original goal. Now he has his sights set on a top-four finish.

“This experience means everything to me,” Culpepper said. “I have trained countless hours for this incredible opportunity, and I feel honored to be representing Legacy Christian Academy.”

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Xenia Legacy Christian freshman Tucker Culpepper

Xenia Legacy Christian freshman Tucker Culpepper

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Xenia Legacy Christian freshman Tucker Culpepper

* Division I: Springboro’s Sai and Rishi Dore are teammates, brothers and now fellow state qualifiers. Sai, a senior, is making his third state trip while Rishi, a freshman is a first-time qualifier. Sai place third when he was a freshman.

“Not only are they talented players, but it’s also an exceptional family,” Panthers coach Troy Holtrey said. “We hate losing Sai, but I’m excited to see what Rishi can do.”

If the brothers win their first-round state matches, they will face each other in the quarterfinals Friday.

102nd Annual Boys State Tennis Tournament

Where: Lindner Family Tennis Center, Mason

When: Friday play begins at 9 a.m. with all 16 DI & DII singles matches, followed by DI doubles and DII doubles; Saturday play begins at 9 a.m. with semifinal matches, followed by finals matches.

Local qualifiers

(Seeding in parentheses)

Division I

Singles: (3.) Sai Dore, Springboro vs. (3.) Caleb Miller, Walsh Jesuit; (4.) Rishi Dore, Springboro vs. (1.) Brandon Carpico, Gahanna Lincoln.

Division II

Singles: (2.) Tucker Culpepper, Xenia Legacy Christian vs. (2.) Ethan Remy, Lexington

Doubles: (3.) Noah Boyce/Max McCloskey, Oakwood vs. (1.) Jake Goldstein/Gabi Kalir, Pepper Pike Orange

Tickets: Visit www.ohsaa.org/tickets

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