COLUMBUS - Sending doubles players to the Division I state tournament is something the St. John's boys tennis team has made a habit of in recent years.
It's especially enjoyable for coach Jim Davis when some of those players are underclassmen.
Although neither of the Titans doubles teams won a match yesterday in Ohio State's Stickney Center, all four will get to play in the OCTA team final four tomorrow at the same site and two of the four are eligible to return next season.
"Obviously it's always nice to get down to Columbus," said Davis, whose team sent two doubles teams to state each of the last two seasons as well. "This is what we work for every year. What's important is that our younger players got down here."
Including St. John's two doubles teams, none of Toledo's area representatives in Division I or II won a match yesterday.
St. John's doubles team of seniors Steve Smith and Eric North lost 6-2, 6-3 to Cincinnati Turpin's Will Knoll and Sam Wilke. The tandem of junior Jacob Kuhn and sophomore Josef Pontasch fell 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to Wilmington's Elliot Conti and Tyler Johnston.
North and 2007 graduate Tyler Sbrocchi lost in a second-round match last year.
"It meant a lot to both of us to be here, especially since we've played together [in doubles] since our freshman year," North said.
According to Kuhn, the Wilmington duo picked up steam with strong serving in the final two sets of their match.
"[Conti] had a real good kick serve," Kuhn said. "We were making our shots in the first set, but after that they just rolled right through us."
Losing in the first round in Division II singles were Ottawa Hills' Evan Bechtel and Joey Aubry.
Maumee Valley Country Day's team of Oliver Rorick and Aaron Delman and Port Clinton's teams of Paul Carman and Blake Troller and Jamie Que and Tim McLean were first-round losers in Division II doubles.
Bechtel lost to Columbus Wellington's Ian Wagner 6-4, 6-2 and Aubry fell to Hunting Valley University School's Zak Kelm 6-4, 6-0.
"I felt like I did everything I could," said Bechtel, who finished 26-5. "I played well but he played better than I did."
"I was just happy to be here," said Aubry, who finished 28-3. "I played pretty well at first. Last year I lost in the first round of the district but I felt like I got a lot stronger mentally and developed my game a lot more since then. His serving and volleys were really strong."
While Rorick and Delman lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to Dayton Miami Valley School's Jack Adam and Chris Carlson, Carman and Blake Troller fell to Cincinnati Seven Hills' Andrew Knust and Kyle McCall (6-3, 6-2) and Que and McLean lost to Seven Hills' Sam Laber and Matt Tesmond (6-1, 6-2).
Delman and Rorick also lost in the first round a year ago.
"We had high expectations coming here and definitely thought we could do some damage," Delman said. "We were in it the whole time but just couldn't get it done."
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