Monday, May 12th, 2014
Celina claims first league title since 1995
Western Buckeye League Boys Tennis Tournament
By Gary R. Rasberry
Kris LeJeune, left and Isaac Elston congratulate each other after a successful p. . .
LIMA - The last time Celina was crowned WBL boys tennis champs, the current squad were not born yet.
Coach Toma Hainline remembers, though, as she guided the 1995 team to the overall title.
The current batch of Celina tennis players brought home another title, sharing the overall championship with Shawnee as the league tournament concluded at the University of Northwestern Ohio on Saturday.
While Celina won the regular season title with a 9-0 record, Shawnee won the tournament title with all five sections playing for titles compared with Celina having three title match appearances.
Hainline a had bit of a flashback because this year's team worked out at the former Racquet Club, where the program used to hold its practices and matches. The club also had been the longtime host site for the WBL tournament.
"What gave me déjà vu with this group was that we subleased the Racquet Club and I could train this group with stuff that we did (in 1995)," said Hainline, who shares the WBL Coach of the Year honors with Shawnee's Steve Jones. "I even told the boys (about) running the hill in front of the club, taking them out to the parking lot and running them around the outside courts and doing jump rope and footwork drills. When it was cold and windy, we'd go outside and do all that. I reminded them that of that (Saturday) morning. They worked hard in conditioning to get to this point. They had to let their game speak for themselves."
The NetDogs made good showings in their three title matches, bringing home First and Second Doubles titles and the Second Singles title for a second straight season.
Isaac Elston and Kris LeJeune won their second straight First Doubles title in a blistering battle with Shawnee's Timmy Rutter and Carter Jones. The 6-2, 6-4 final score doesn't show how the Shawnee pair battled , especially in rallies at set point and match point in each set.
"We've been working so hard because we love tennis," Elston said. "Ever since our freshmen year, we decided that we really wanted to dedicate our time to tennis. Every winter, we've been inside hitting and working out. The end of a long hard journey."
LeJeune had the serve during both set point in the first set and match point in the second set. Several times LeJeune's serves prevented the Indians from gaining an extra game.
"I think one of the keys to the match was that I served huge today," LeJeune said. "That really opened up the court for Isaac to put balls away. When one person on the team is serving well, you can fall back on that when you're in the corner (of the court)."
In Second Doubles, Kriegel and Weitz faced off against Shawnee's Chris Mart and Troy Brinkman. It looked like Kriegel and Weitz would cruise to victory, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, but Mart and Brinkman stormed back and were up 6-5 before the Celina pair forced a tiebreaker. The back-and-forth game continued before Weitz and Kriegel came away with an 8-6 tiebreaker win.
"We were up 3-0. I don't know what happened," said Kriegel. "We played so many tiebreakers this season. We knew how to handle it."
The tiebreaker rally returned the momentum to Kriegel and Weitz, who rolled to a 6-2 win in the second set to claim the title.
"Winning the tiebreaker gave us a lot of momentum," said Weitz, who teamed with Keaton Mohler to win Second Doubles last season. "It took a little steam away from the other team. It was nice we had that (first set) in the bank so we can go out and have fun. It's certainly been fun."
The win marked the last teaming of the pair, as Kriegel will team with Aaron Seibel in the postseason doubles tournament and Weitz will play singles.
Alex Seibel had a bit of déjà vu in his Second Singles championship match against Avinash Rajasekaran of Shawnee, as the pair had just played the previous Saturday in the final regular season league match.
Seibel won the opening set 6-0 and was up 3-0 in the second set before Rajasekaran came back in the second set to take the lead, much like their meeting the week before.
"Second set I was up, then he came back to make it 4-3," said Seibel, who did not lose a set in the league this season. "Like last week, I didn't want to lose a set now. I wanted to get over with it. I knew at some point (Rajasekaran) would get some emotion. He did, and (eventually) I was down 5-4. That reminded me of the last match and I needed to come back."
Seibel recovered to win the last three games to take the set and title 7-5.
The four Celina unit to make the semifinals on Saturday, Aaron Seibel, finished third in First Singles. Aaron, who won Second Singles last season, defeated Lane Mansfield of Van Wert 6-4, 6-2 in the third place match.
St. Marys' Justin Nedderman took home third place in Third Singles, beating Troy Goodin of Kenton 6-1, 6-4 in their consolation match.
The WBL teams except Wapakoneta and Defiance return to UNOH this week for the Division II sectional.