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Published: Wednesday, 5/9/2001

St. Francis wins 3rd straight crown, focuses on state tourney

BY CRAIG MANTEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Yesterday, the St. Francis de Sales Knights half-heartedly celebrated sweeping all five championship matches and capturing their third straight City League tennis title at Jermain Park.

“It's great. It was our goal all year,'' said junior Ross Wilson, who claimed his second straight No. 1 singles title. “It's something we've worked for every day at practice. It's great we accomplished one of our goals.''

But today, it's old news.

“Whatever happened yesterday means nothing today,'' coach Mark Faber said, reiterating the season-long motto for the Knights, ranked No. 1 in the state coaches' poll. “This is just another stepping stone toward our ultimate goal.''

That would be the championship in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament, toward which undefeated St. Francis will try to take its next step in district-semifinal action tomorrow against host Southview.

Nevertheless, the Knights' performance was impressive.

In the regular-season match with 10th-ranked St. John's Jesuit, the Titans won both doubles matches but fell 3-2. Yesterday, in an all-St. Francis-St. John's final, the Knights dropped just one set.

St. Francis totaled 30 points in the tournament and 38 altogether, including regular-season points. St. John's finished second with 25 points yesterday, followed by Central Catholic (20) and Rogers (18.5), which was aided by the third-place finishes of Logan Burghardt at No. 1 and Eric Turner at No. 2.

In the No. 1 singles title match, Wilson simply had too much game for St. John's Tim DeWitt, winning 6-1, 6-2.

Wilson yielded just one point in the first two games. DeWitt held serve in Game 4, but Wilson broke him again in Game 6, then won at love, putting the set away with a nice backhand shot along the net.

DeWitt started sharper in the second set, holding serve on his first two service games. But Wilson seldom wavered, hitting winners on forehands, backhands, overheads and drop shots, both down the lines and crosscourt. The No. 1 seed broke DeWitt in Games 5 and 7, then won on serve.

“I was just trying to be a little more aggressive,'' said DeWitt, comparing yesterday's match to their regular-season meeting. “But I wasn't consistent enough.

“That's the thing about playing Ross. You hit a few shots good, then all of a sudden, he changes his game up a little and you have to have a whole new plan of attack. That's what makes it tough. He's a versatile player.''

“My serve was a little off, but other than that I played pretty solid,'' Wilson said. “I thought that if I just hold serve and make him play the points, make him get some shots in, that, hopefully, he's going to miss a couple shots.''

“He's taken his game to the next level over the past year and it's been starting to show this spring. It's paying off for him,'' Faber said.

The Knights' James O'Connell won No. 2 singles 6-0, 6-0 and Colin Mohler won No. 3 6-1, 6-3.

In doubles, Justin Jordan and Kevin O'Connell rallied for a 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory and Jeff Serpa and David Kubacki won 7-5, 6-0.



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