Cloverleaf's Ethan Dunbar flashed a huge grin as he walked off the court following his quarterfinal victory over Thomas Worthington's Casey Cempre. After what happened in the quarterfinals last season, he couldn't help himself.
Dunbar was stunned in the quarterfinals last season when he lost for the first time. He's undefeated again (35-0) entering Saturday's semifinal against Worthington Kilbourne's Kevin Metka. Metka won a doubles championship last season.
"Getting to the semifinals is big," Dunbar said. "I wasn't disappointed with last year, but I definitely wanted to do better this year. So far, I have."
Uniontown Lake freshman Ross Whittaker lost to Metka in his first taste of state tennis. It has left him immediately wanting more. Whittaker walked off the court and told his father and coach, Bryan, he wants to get to work developing a big serve -- exactly what Metka used in rolling to a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
The 6-foot-3 Whittaker (27-6) has a bright future ahead of him. Developing a powerful serve between now and next season would make him that much more dangerous.
"I'd never played a server quite like that. He had a huge serve," Whittaker said. "I really want to start training: footwork, getting a big serve like him. This showed me what I have to work on, what it takes to beat the kids."
Cona really rocked
Not only did Walsh Jesuit's Garrett Cona battle threw a doubles match with partner Matt Spittler that lasted nearly three hours, but he also took a shot to the ear early in the match.
Cona charged the net as one of the Toledo St. John's players drilled an overhand smash -- right into Cona's ear.
"It was soft," Cona joked, before adding he quickly thought of his good friend and state wrestling champion Johnni DiJulius. "The first thing I thought was, 'Oh God, I'm going to get cauliflower ear just like him."
The Warriors battled for 2 hours and 46 minutes in suffocating heat before falling in three sets. The length of the match took a toll on the players -- mentally, not physically.
"I think singles is physical exhaustion," Spittler said. "In doubles, it's hard to stay focused on every point for that amount of time. It's tough."
Cona and Spittler were Walsh Jesuit's top singles players all season, but paired together for the state tournament.
Hudson goes home
Hudson freshman Steven Boslet and junior Patrick Ohanian made their first trip to state and picked up a victory along the way. The pair beat Cincinnati Princeton's Connor Nagel and Daniel Regenold in the first match before falling to a powerful Upper Arlington team in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-1.
The Explorers were one of the last teams on the court for their first round match and only had about 45 minutes to rest between matches.
"We got behind, they got a little momentum and we just stopped playing the way that we can play," Hudson coach Tim Morgan said. "You don't get to the top eight teams by not playing well. They were able to just take us out of our game."
Massillon Jackson's day ends early
Will Eisenberg and Nathan Kanam's first trip to state ended quickly. The pair from Massillon Jackson lost their first match to Cincinnati St. Xavier, 6-3, 6-0.
Eisenberg and Kanam trailed 4-1 in the first set, but cut it to 4-3 and serving to tie. St. Xavier broke serve, though, and served out the win.
"That deflated us a little bit," Massillon Jackson coach Keith Kohmann said. "We had some opportunities that just didn't get cashed in."