The Northeastern High School tennis program had won 10 straight Ohio Heritage Conference championships entering the season. Senior Jake Calhoun wasn’t ready to see that come to an end.
He felt the same about his own high school career entering this week.
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school scores
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school scoreboard
Calhoun – coming off that 11th straight OHC title with an undefeated regular season – kept his prep career going, too, after nearly pulling off a perfect run through the Division II sectional tournament that concluded Saturday. The unseeded Calhoun scored upsets over the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds before falling to No. 2 in the singles sectional final at Troy’s City Park.
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“I was definitely thrilled with my play,” said Calhoun, who qualified for his first D-II district tournament in Mason on Thursday. “I got a really good draw and I thank coach for that one. Coming in I had a lot of confidence.”
Calhoun will be joined at the D-II district championships by Northwestern senior Matt Yeager in singles and Catholic Central’s doubles team of seniors Jack Brougher and Colin Kelly. Tecumseh senior Mitchell Foland defended his top seeding to win the D-I singles sectional championship.
“It feels kind of good, actually,” Foland said of being the first No. 1 seed in Tecumseh coach Sean Bragg’s 10 seasons. “I was thinking I was coming in as the No. 2 (behind) Troy’s Shane Essick (the two-time defending sectional champion who instead moved to doubles). When coach told me I was No. 1, I was like sweet.”
Foland beat No. 3-seeded Prem Dev in the semifinals 6-0, 6-1 to set up a championship match with No. 2-seeded Elijah Sadler of Troy. Foland won the first set 6-2. He led the second set 4-1 and 5-2 before relaxing, allowing Sadler to rally. Foland regained his form to win 7-6 (7-2).
Calhoun upset No. 4 Ryan Goettemoeller of Lehman Catholic 6-1, 6-2 on Tuesday to qualify for Saturday’s semifinals and clinch his first district appearance. Calhoun returned Saturday to upset top-seeded Yeager, 6-2, 6-3 and reach the finals. There he led second-seeded Griffin West of Lehman 7-6 (7-3) after the first set before dropping the next two 2-6, 1-6.
“I thought he had a realistic chance of being able to advance,” Northeastern coach Jane Warren said. “Our sectional is always a good test.”
Yeager bounced back from his semifinal loss Saturday to knock of Northridge’s Josh Brown 6-2, 7-5 and claim third place and his first district appearance.
“I’m just so happy to make it districts this year,” said Yeager, who just missed qualifying last season in doubles. “That was one of my goals coming into my senior year.”
Yeager thought he would earn a seed in the singles draw, but he had no idea it would be the top one. That added some pressure.
“That was kind of a surprise. I thought I’d be seeded but I … was thinking about No. 3 or No. 4,” Yeager said. “When you’re the number one seed there’s always going to be some pressure. I was able to handle it and got through it and move on to districts.”
Central’s Brougher and Kelly, seeded No. 2, rallied in the semifinals to beat Tippecanoe’s unseeded team of Colin Achterberg and Christopher Nichols 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Brougher and Kelly faced Milton-Union’s top-seeded team of Nathan Brumbaugh and Nick Brumbaugh, the defending doubles champions. The Irish duo fell 6-2, 6-2.
“Before the match we said to each other we know we were going to lose,” Kelly said. “But it’s good practice for us. We’re not going to play anyone like that until the tournament. We’re happy.”
Brougher and Kelly qualified for the district meet last season and lost in the first round. Their hoping last year’s experience will boost their chances to get out of the first round this time.
“We’re ready to do better than last year and see where it takes us,” Brougher said. “You never know.”