It was difficult to watch Cloverleaf senior Ethan Dunbar lose his final chance at a state championship. It was even more difficult watching him hobble around the court Saturday in a meaningless third-place match.
After losing their chance at a championship, Dunbar and CVCA's Alex Aleman were forced to return to the court for consolation matches to determine third and fourth place.
Is it worth it? Depends on who you ask.
CVCA's Lou Konstan enjoyed his consolation match with brother Will since they won and finished third in the state.
"I like it because it gives me a shot not to go out on a loss," Lou said. "It's nice leaving here with a win. That's a confidence booster."
Then there are Dunbar and Aleman, who both suffered painful injuries during matches that didn't mean much. Dunbar reaggravated an ankle injury first sustained in January. He fought through it, but it clearly had a huge impact on his match and prevented any realistic chance of beating Westlake's Colton Huffington.
Aleman cramped so badly during his third-place match, he was still flat on the court 20 minutes after the match ended, ice bags wrapped around both thighs and unable to stand.
"I don't think it's as important as being in the finals, but I still wanted to win it," Aleman said. "You always know who wins the whole thing, but it's not like people remember third and fourth place. They remember more who's in the finals."
Just to make it a little more difficult, the consolation matches at Ohio State's Stickney Tennis Center are played on the courts right next to the championship match for each division. So not only are the players upset they're not playing in the finals, they can also watch a few of the points and get distracted by the roars from the next court over.
"I was watching a few of the points," Aleman said. "It's hard to focus around here with all the people walking around."
Now Aleman has less than 24 hours to recover from the severe cramping, what he called the worst he's ever tried to play through, before CVCA competes in the Final Four of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association's team tournament in Columbus on Sunday.
Which again begs the question: Are the third place matches at state really worth it?