MOUNT VERNON — The Ohio Cardinal Conference Tennis Tournament, held at Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Ramser Courts on Saturday, turned into a battle for the top spot between the Lexington Minutemen (59 total points), who defeated the Ashland Arrows (43) in the championship matches in all singles and doubles brackets.
The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets placed third overall with 25 points, getting boosted by a strong overall performance, placing third, fourth or fifth in all five brackets. They also played tough against powerhouses Lexington and Ashland.
“Our players came out to play,” said Mount Vernon coach Jeff Jarosz. “They played very well. We really improved this year, and two of them have really stepped up. We are very happy placing third in the conference. We didn’t think, going into the season, we would finish that high.”
After defeating Mansfield Senior’s Wade Jarvis in the first round, 6-0, 6-0, Mount Vernon’s No. 1 singles player Matt Dineen dropped a 6-4, 6-2 decision to Ashland’s Nolan Glazer. Dineen clinched third place by beating Mansfield Madison’s Gavin Remy, 8-4, in the final round.
“Matt had one really tough match,” Jarosz said. “That Nolan Glazer is a No. 2 seed, going into sectionals, and Matt hung tough with him.”
Mount Vernon’s No. 2 doubles pair of Ryan Peeples and Matt Sabula breezed past Mansfield Madison’s Chase O’Connell and Zak Hoover, 6-1, 6-0, in the first round of bracket play. In the second round, they ran into eventual No. 2 doubles champions Ross Durlik and Evan Matney of Lexington. The Mount Vernon pair lost, 6-1, 6-1, but redeemed themselves, winning the third place consolation round over West Holmes’ Hunter Ellis and James Barr, 8-2.
Mount Vernon No. 2 singles player Jack Staats defeated Mansfield Senior’s Cyrus Hock in the first round, but fell, 6-1, 6-1, to eventual bracket winner Brent Webster of Lexington. Staats finished the day in fourth place after dropping the third place final to John Gorman of Wooster.
Jackets’ No. 3 singles player Bryce Wiles lost early in the day, but finished strong, defeating Madison’s Brandon Liggett handily, 8-1. The win left Wiles in fifth place for the day.
“Jack Staats and Bryce Wiles are both brand new to tennis,” Jarosz said. “They never played tennis until they came to our program this year, That shows how much we have tried to build up these kids and how hard they’re working.”
After losing early, Mount Vernon’s No. 1 doubles pair of Harry Ogle and Will Kaufman finished the day by defeating Madison’s Harrison Lunsford and Tavis Pittenger, 8-2, to finish fifth in their bracket.
Next for the Jackets will be sectionals this Thursday in Reynoldsburg. With the help of assistant coaches Steve Tier and Tim Peeples, Jarosz feels the Jackets are getting more positive instruction in smaller groups, which is a help to everyone — especially the younger players.
“Going into sectionals, our kids are playing with a little bit more confidence,” Jarosz said. “I think it’s going to be a tough draw, because there will be a lot of tough teams down in the Columbus area, but I think we are hitting our stride and playing our best tennis of the year.”