Three members of the Miami Trace boys tennis team recently competed in the Division II District tournament.
One of them, senior Juan Diego Navas, has qualified to the State tournament that will begin Friday at 9:30 a.m. at the Linder Family Tennis Courts in Mason (across from King’s Island on I-71).
Navas was the No. 1 overall seed of the District tournament, having won Sectionals for the Southeast. Therefore, he received a bye in the first round.
In the second round, Navas faced Alex Tambellini, a senior from East Liverpool, where he won 6-2, 6-3.
“Unfortunately, Juan broke the strings of his beloved racket, so on borrowed strings, he unfortunately fell to the No. 4 seed (Brandon Nibert) from Waverly in his first loss of the entire season 2-6, 6-7 (1-7),” Miami Trace head coach Mitch Augenstein said.
“Nibert (a sophomore) was a very consistent player and a worthy opponent for Juan,” Augenstein said. “He didn’t let that defeat him mentally, as he knew he needed to come back and win on Day 2 of Districts for the 3rd and final spot.
Day 2 of Districts (singles)
“Juan had to play Drew Jackson (a sophomore) from Wheelersburg, the young man he already defeated in the semifinals of the Sectionals in Portsmouth,” Augenstein said. “Juan came in mentally strong and filled with a fire to win and preserve to the goal he had worked towards all season — becoming a State qualifier. It was a close battle in the first set with both players going at it, but after it was 3-3, Juan took the momentum and kept on swinging to win the next nine straight games to conclude a 6-3, 6-0 victory, placing Juan as a State qualifier, yet again making Miami Trace history.
Junior Matt Fender and senior Seth Leach also competed in the District tournament as the No. 4 seed, placing fourth. The top three doubles teams advanced to the State tournament.
They defeated Allen and Jones (the No. 5 seed) of Wheelersburg, 6-1, 6-0.
In the second round, Fender and Leach took on the No. 2 seeded team, Carpenetti and Stanberry of Cambridge.
Despite a mid-match rain delay and a hot, blazing sun thereafter, the Panther tandem pulled the upset, 6-1, 6-4.
Having won the first two rounds, the third match of Day 1 either put you in the winner’s final of Day 2 of Districts, or it put you in the side to go for third place on Day 2 of Districts.
“With our draw, we had to play Gallia Academy for our Final 4 match, the number 1 overall seed,” Miami Trace head coach Mitch Augenstein said.
Wilcoxon and Velasco topped Fender and Leach, 6-1, 6-0.
“They were a solid pair, and they would go on to win the (tournament),” Augenstein said.
Day 2 of Districts (doubles)
“Since we lost the last match on Saturday, we still got to come back on Sunday, but we would be playing for third place and the final spot to go to State,” Augenstein said. “Fourth place only has the honor of making Final 4.
“We played Portsmouth Clay, which was the No. 2 overall seed,” Augenstein said. “It was a great, hard-fought match with Matt even diving on the courts to reach for a ball and Seth hitting consistent cross-court shots while saving shot after shot.
“In the end, after a long, two-hour match, Matt and Seth fell to Hinze and Keller, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6. “I couldn’t be more proud of these boys and the way that they played, fought, and improved from last year’s first-round loss. Making it to the Final 4 is huge!
“I could not be more proud of a season filled with growth, success, improvements, accomplishments, losses, hardships, and moments to overcome,” Augenstein said. “All of my boys have made my last and final season for both Miami Trace Boys’ and Washington Court House Girls’ one to remember.
“As this school year comes to a close, I have officially resigned and am moving one and a half hours north to be closer to home, family, and church,” Augenstein said. “I leave Washington Court House with my life greatly changed for the better, and I am beyond thankful and blessed by each and every life that has been a part of my own. Now…onto one final chapter: the State Tournament this Friday at 9 a.m. where the professional Western and Southern Tournament is held every year.”
Sports Editor Chris Hoppes contributed to this report.