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Published: Wednesday, 5/25/2011

State team title in reach for Titans

St. John’s easily cruises past Southview

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Evan Bechtel of St. John’s will play for a chance at a state singles title and also will help the Titans compete for the team title this week. Evan Bechtel of St. John’s will play for a chance at a state singles title and also will help the Titans compete for the team title this week.
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Evan Bechtel recently studied a bunch of tennis data, analyzing high school lineups from around the state, combing through lists of rankings, and cross-referencing results.

He did this to get a handle on how he and his St. John’s Jesuit teammates will fare Sunday when they make their seventh straight appearance in the final four of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament at Hilliard Davidson.

Bechtel’s conclusion? St. John’s has a good chance of winning this thing.

The Titans (18-1) rolled through Southview Tuesday in a regional final played outdoors at Shadow Valley, winning three matches in 45 minutes or less. Bechtel, at No. 1 singles, and Ryan Jorgensen, at No. 2, were leading their matches when they were called off of the court due to the Titans’ lead being insurmountable.

“I just think we should have the best singles lineup down there, and we have good doubles teams,” Bechtel said. “I think we should take them out.”

Bechtel (25-1) also will compete in the state singles tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Davidson. A champion at last week’s Bowling Green district, Bechtel believes his draw is favorable.

Eluding the Titans the past six years is a state team championship. They’ve finished second four times, including last year, and third twice. During this seven-year run of dominance, Jim Davis’ squads are 170-7, with six of the losses coming in the state final four.

“The title is the ultimate goal right now,” said Bobby Adusumilli, who did not lose a game to Southview’s M.J. Haidar at No. 3 singles. “I think we have an amazing chance to do it this year.”

The fourth-ranked Titans will take on No. 3 New Albany in one semifinal, with the winner advancing to the finals later in the day against the semifinal winner of No. 2 Cincinnati St. Xavier and No. 6 Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit. St. John’s lone loss came to top-ranked Upper Arlington when Bechtel was out sick. New Albany eliminated Upper Arlington earlier in the tournament.

Southview’s Michael Udell returns a shot to Ryan Jorgensen of St. John’s. Jorgensen held a 6-2, 5-1 lead when the Titans’ team lead became overwhelming and his match with Udell was called. Southview’s Michael Udell returns a shot to Ryan Jorgensen of St. John’s. Jorgensen held a 6-2, 5-1 lead when the Titans’ team lead became overwhelming and his match with Udell was called.
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St. John’s doubles teams cruised Tuesday. Connor Majdalani and Madhav Mehta blanked Scott Hileman and Sam Chang at No. 1, and Ryan Brown and Spencer Crawford beat Niket Parikh and John Burchfield, 6-0, 6-2. Of the matches unfinished, Bechtel was ahead 6-2, 3-3 on Darren Ng, and Jorgensen led Michael Udell 6-2, 5-1. The Titans even stuck around after the match for an impromptu practice.

“Last year, I thought we could probably win state and it didn’t happen,” said Jorgensen, whose broken ankle suffered in the championship match against Upper Arlington doomed St. John’s. “That was motivation for me this year, at least.”

The senior Bechtel will open up the 16-person singles tournament Friday against Cincinnati Princeton’s Conner Nagel, a junior who finished fourth in the southwest district. On the opposite side of the bracket are defending state runner-up Zach Mueck of Liberty Township Lakota East, and Westlake’s Colton Buffington, who finished third last year and is responsible for Bechtel’s lone loss this year. Bechtel said his half of the bracket is filled with “dangerous” players.

“[Evan] does a good job of realizing what game plan to use against each player, and I think if he’s able to execute his game plan per his opponent, he can do really well,” Davis said.

Bechtel, Toledo’s first Division I district champ since 2005, could end up playing six matches in three days. In a perfect scenario, he’ll win a state title for himself on Saturday and then help his team do the same a day later.

“Might as well throw my body out and maybe get some puking going,” Bechtel said, grinning. “If that’s what happens, that’s what happens. It doesn’t really matter.”

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.



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