By Rob Kiser
TROY — A year ago, Lehman Catholic’s boy tennis team had a very untypical year on the tennis courts.
A losing season and no district qualifiers.
While still a young team, the Cavaliers turned all those numbers around this spring — marking off the final goal of a district qualifier Friday in the Troy D-II sectional.
Junior Griffin West, the third seed in singles, cruised to the semifinals without dropping a set, to clinch a berth in next week’s district tournament in Mason.
West plays in the semifinals today to determine his seed for next week’s tournament.
“We had a 10-7 record this year, we are going to end up ranked sixth in the area in Division II…and we have a district qualifier,” Lehman coach Tim Ungericht said.
West opened the day with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Bryce Roberts of Catholic Central, handled Reilly Smith of Northwestern 6-0, 6-0; and defeated Brandon Stokes of Northeastern 6-0, 6-3 in the quarterfinals to clinch a berth at district.
West’s older brother Josh was a two-time district qualifier.
“Definitely, getting to district was a big goal,” West said. “That (his brother) was a motivator. Really, I think I just played with a lot more confidence this year.”
West had a few anxious moments in the second set against Stokes.
“I was thinking about district,” he said with a smile. “I wanted to go out today and play well and I think I did that.”
“For Griffin (West), I think it is just a matter of having another year’s experience,” Ungericht said. “I expected the last match to be his toughest and it was.”
Ungericht knew Stokes wouldn’t go down easy.
“He is a senior and Northeastern’s number one player,” Ungericht said. “Griffin (West) had a few anxious moments in the second set. I knew that district was on his mind. But, I thought Griffin played a really smart match and he played well on all the big points.”
West will face second seed Daniel Detrick of Springfield Shawnee in the semifinals, with a possible matchup of top seed Phillip Brumbaugh of Milton-Union in the finals.
“I have played the top seed (Phillip Brumbaugh), but not (Danny) Detrick,” West said. “You just have to go out and play your match.”
Ungericht will have West well prepared.
“Our assistant coach (Mike Ritze) is a serve and volleyer,” Ungericht said. “And (Danny) Detrick is a serve and volleyer. He is a senior who has been to district all four years. Tim (Ritze) has been playing with Griffin, so Griffin will be ready.”
The Lehman doubles team of Sam Ritze and Ryan Goettemoeller were the third seeds, but lost a heartbreaker to Brookville in the go-to district match.
The duo defeated Andrew Fansler and Bailey Ullah of Urbana 6-2, 6-0; before losing to Brycen Williams and Randy Ritchie of Brookville 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“Those two guys from Brookville just battled,” Ungericht said. “They are both seniors. I know my guys are hurting right now, but I think it is going to make them hungry for next season. I really do.”
Danny Lins and Michael Wesner defeated Northridge by default, before losing 6-1, 6-1 to Nathan and Nick Brumbaugh of Milton-Union.
In singles, Sean Toner lost to Jeremy Penick of Brookville 6-3, 6-4; while Elias Bezy lost to Evan Hill of Tippecanoe 6-1, 6-1.
“Coach Ritze and I can have all the goals in the world, but if the kids don’t have the same goals it doesn’t matter,” Ungericht said. “The things I heard were a better ranking next year, a better record, beating Sidney and more guys to district. The one goal I really have is winning the Schroeder Invitational next year.
“We almost got three guys to district — but, we got one.”
Thanks to West, you can mark that final goal off the list.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.