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St. John’s wins state team championship

Bechtel, 2 doubles teams capture victories in final of Ohio coaches association tournament

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Evan Bechtel of St. John's returns a shot at the net against Zach Mueck of Lakota East during the Division I Ohio High School championship match on Saturday. Bechtel and the Titans won the state team title on Sunday.

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HILLIARD, Ohio — A day after St. John’s Jesuit’s top player won the Division I state singles championship, the Titans won the state championship in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament.

St. John’s beat Cincinnati St. Xavier, 3-1 on Sunday in the championship finals at Hilliard Davidson, capturing the program’s third state title and first since 1986. Winning matches for St. John’s were Evan Bechtel, who won the state singles title, and the doubles teams of Connor Majdalani and Madhav Mehta and Ryan Brown and Spencer Crawford. Both doubles teams won thrilling three-set matches.

St. John’s was making its seventh straight appearance in the state semifinals, all under coach Jim Davis. The Titans are 172-7 over that period.

“This was totally a team effort,” Davis said. “Everybody played their position very well. I think what happens when you play your position well, each of your teammates thinks they can win their match. It doesn’t put extra pressure on them.”

St. John’s (20-1) advanced to the finals with a 3-1 win over New Albany in a semifinal. St. Xavier beat Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 3-1 in the other semifinal. Walsh Jesuit beat New Albany 3-2, in the consolation finals.

The OTCA team tournament is not sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, but is widely accepted as the platform used each year to crown a team state champion. The tournament begins in April, and St. John’s won four matches in the northwest district to qualify for the state tournament.

In both wins Sunday, Bechtel (31-1) was first to come off the court. He beat New Albany state qualifier Steven Miller, 6-1, 6-4, and followed with a win over St. Xavier’s Devin Bostick, 6-1, 6-3. Beginning with Friday’s two rounds of the OHSAA singles tournament, Bechtel won six matches over three days. He beat Liberty Township Lakota East’s Zach Mueck in Saturday’s state championship 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

“What a way to go out,” Davis said. “He’s a singles champion and a team champion. It’s pretty wild. It’s pretty cool.”

Majdalani and Mehta battled back from an opening-set loss at No. 1 doubles to beat St. Xavier’s Ed Brown and Casey Leary 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), thus clinching the championship. Ten minutes earlier Brown and Crawford came off the court after outlasting Elliot Bostick and Don Baurman 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

Both of St. John’s doubles teams won in straight sets in the semifinal.

“Our doubles just played so well,” Davis said.

No. 2 singles player Ryan Jorgensen lost both of his matches, and No. 3 singles player Bobby Adusumilli was trailing in both of his before he was called off of the court due to the Titans holding insurmountable leads. Bechtel, Majdalani, and Jorgensen are all seniors.

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