In winning its first Northern Lakes League boys tennis championship since 1999, Southview has been a study in depth as opposed to a team of top-flight individuals this season.
The Cougars’ balance was good enough to post a 7-0 record in NLL dual matches, and it was good enough Tuesday and Wednesday to add a league tournament title as well.
That combination, this time, secured the overall NLL crown, something that eluded the Cougars last year despite having won the league tourney.
PHOTO GALLERY: Northern Lakes League Boys Tennis Tournament
Southview’s two titles Wednesday came at No. 3 singles, where sophomore Michael Burchfield topped Perrysburg senior Garrett Laurer 6-1, 6-1, and at No. 2 doubles, where the senior duo of Daniel Hwang and Chris Ellis defeated Springfield’s junior pair of D.J. Helminiak and Ben Bucher 6-1, 6-3.
The Cougars posted 55 tournament points to top runner-up Perrysburg (47) and third-place Northview (34). Southview claimed the overall NLL title with 38 team points, earning 14 of those with their seven league match victories, and 24 more for taking first in the tourney.
“We knew we had to be deep,” second-year Southview coach A.J. Szozda said. “[Perrysburg’s Jeffrey] Schorsch has won the league the last four years, handily, but the balanced, deep teams do the best.
“It was quite an accomplishment to go unbeaten in the league. We hadn’t done that in a while, and Southview hasn’t won a boys tennis championship since the 1990s. We put ourselves in good position [in Tuesday’s quarterfinals and semifinals], and then had to play well with the lead. They did their jobs today.”
Perrysburg and Northview were also second and third, respectively, in the final overall standings with 31 and 30 points.
Individually, the most prestigious title went to Perrysburg standout senior Jeffrey Schorsch, who captured his fourth straight NLL No. 1 singles championship.
“It’s been fun the last four years,” said Schorsch, who will play on scholarship at Valparaiso University in Indiana next year. “I just enjoy all the guys here. They’re great.
“To see all the guys come and go has been enjoyable, and the competition’s been great. I’ve been glad to win it the last four years. That was my goal coming into the NLL season — to make an impression before I graduate.”
In pushing his overall season record to 23-0, Schorsch made easy work of promising Springfield freshman Cody Wurzelbacher in a 6-0, 6-0 final that took just 33 minutes to complete.
“He’s going to be a fantastic tennis player,” Schorsch said of Wurzelbacher. “If he keeps working hard and doing what he’s doing now, he’s going to be the guy to beat in the NLL. It was a pleasure playing him today.”
The closest Schorsch came to yielding even a single game in the match came when he was up 6-0, 1-0. Wurzelbacher served himself to a 40-15 lead before his more accomplished senior foe rallied for four straight points.
Schorsch’s toughest match this season was a non-league battle against Walsh Jesuit’s Aaron Sandberg, who had defeated the Perrysburg player in the third-place match at last year’s Division I state singles tournament.
This year, Sandberg won the first set 6-0 and led 2-0 in the second before Schorsch rallied to an 0-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.
“[Sandberg] will be one of the main competitors at state,” Schorsch said. “We had a tough three-set match and I cramped up at the end, but I fought through it.
“It’s been a long road, but I just can’t wait to see how well I can do at states. I have high expectations for myself, and I just really want to do well. I think I can win.”
State competition kicks off next week with tournament play at the sectional level.
In the No. 2 singles final, Perrysburg junior Troy Weider took a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Southview junior M.J. Haidar.
The No. 1 doubles title went to the Northview senior duo of twin brothers Mukund and Mahon Sharma, who toppled Southview juniors Yran Chen and Jason Bigler 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
“We had to step up on them today and we pulled out the win,” Mohan Sharma said. “Both of our serves were on, and that’s big in doubles. We had some good points at the net and put them away nicely.”
The win avenged a three-set loss the Northview brothers took against their Sylvania rivals in a 2½-hour match earlier in the season in league play.
“We knew our net game could win it for us, so we attacked the net,” Mukund Sharma said. “That’s why we won the title. It was good to get this one. Hopefully we can keep this up and get to state.”
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6461, or on Twitter@JungaBlade.