Starting today several of the top boys tennis players in this area will experience the state tournament.
The event begins today at Ohio State's Stickney Tennis Center, beginning with Division II singles at 9 a.m. Today's play also will include second-round matches, with the semifinals and finals beginning at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
St. John's Jesuit will send two doubles teams to the event in senior Dustin DeLelles and junior Tyler Sbrocchi as well as juniors Rollin Urrutia and Brian Meyer.
The DeLelles-Sbrocchi duo is one of only three Division I doubles teams to play in the event last year. Does that pairing have an advantage over everyone that doesn't have state experience?
"I think they do, because they know the atmosphere and the hype," St. John's tennis coach Jim Davis said.
But that doesn't mean Davis feels Urrutia and Meyer, who won last week's Port Clinton district title, are at a disadvantage.
"We've played so many big matches - in Detroit, in Novi, in Cleveland, all over the place," Davis said.
Division II singles returns five players with at least one year's state experience, including defending champ Stephen Havens of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and runner-up Chris Herrlinger of Cincinnati Country Day.
And while three local competitors - seniors Ben Bischoff of Napoleon, Abi Pai of Maumee Valley and Andy Redd of Archbold - are making their first singles appearances, both Bischoff and Pai played in last year's doubles tournament.
"Having been down there, I've got a feeling for what it's like," Pai said. "It gave me the experience of being in front of that crowd and everything."
In Division II doubles the only local pairing comes from Maumee Valley, which will send senior Jesse Rubin and sophomore Anil Dewan. Rubin said neither he nor his partner can do anything about their lack of experience.
"That's how it goes - we'll just have to play at our level," Rubin said. No local athletes will compete in Division I singles.
On Sunday the Ohio Tennis Coaches' Association will sponsor the finals of its team tournament. St. John's will make its second straight appearance in the Division I tournament, while Maumee Valley will compete in Division II.
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