By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Each time Noah George and Sean Dippold’s quarterfinal opponents left an easy putaway hanging in the air in the second set, Troy tennis coach Mark Goldner quietly uttered “boom” right before the inevitable smash, drawing cheers from the rest of his team watching the match with him.
“Whenever coach says ‘boom,’ magic happens,” Nathan Kleptz said.
The Trojan doubles teams both put on a magic show Wednesday.
The top-seeded doubles team of Kleptz and Jackson Goodall and the third-seeded team of George and Dippold both swept their way to the semifinal round at the Division I sectional tournament Wednesday at Troy High School, with the former qualifying for its second straight district tournament and the latter reaching that level for the first time.
Early in the regular season, the talk around the Trojans centered around who would be at first singles, Kleptz or Goodall. After more than a full week into the season, Kleptz finally was able to edge out Goodall in a third and final playoff for the spot.
But with the regular season over, all of that is in the past.
“For sure. I think we’re both happy to be playing together again,” Kleptz said. “I know I’m happy that he chose to play doubles with me in the tournament. I think we’re both excited, and I told him I missed playing with him. It’s been fun already today.”
“The bitterness has faded. It’s not gone, but it’s faded,” Goodall said with a knowing laugh. “We had a good time today. I think we both played pretty well, especially that third match against Fairborn. We were both hitting all our shots.”
First up, Kleptz and Goodall swept Springfield’s Liam Yalaz and Neil Patel 6-0, 6-0 in the first round, then they defeated Sidney’s Jersain Brux and Broc Bey 6-1, 6-0 in the second round to reach the quarterfinals. Finally, they swept Fairborn’s Wylie Parker and Sam Steck 6-0, 6-0 to lock up their second straight trip to the district tournament.
“Hopefully we’ll do better than at district last year if we can get the first seed,” Goodall said. “We definitely have better chemistry.”
“And I just think we’re better in general,” Kleptz said. “We’ve just got to take it one match at a time. I think we’re definitely a lot more prepared to go to Mason this year than last year.”
In Saturday’s semifinal, they’ll face Stebbins Joseph Song and Hawkins Parker in the semifinal round. That duo outlasted Northmont’s Parker Laubie and Justin Smith, who upset fourth-seeded Butler’s Michael Kreill and Mikael Waale, in three sets in the other quarterfinal match.
And in the other half of the bracket, George and Dippold — the Trojans’ first doubles team all season — cruised to the quarterfinal round, where they matched up against one of the regular-season opponents that they struggled with the most.
After a first-round bye, they defeated Stebbins’ Matt Knospe and Bryson Owens 6-0, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals, where they faced Springfield’s Marshall Grooms and Dhruv Mistry — who took them to three sets earlier in the season. And the first set appeared to be heading that way again, as it went back and forth all the way to a tiebreaker.
“I was kind of getting nervous down 1-3 in the first set,” George said. “But then we had a little comeback, got up to 5-3, and we started getting our confidence back. Then we dropped a couple at the end, which was disappointing, but we came back out and played our game, and I felt like the rest of the match we did what we came to do.”
“The constant splitting of points, even when it got to 6-6, it was frustrating,” Dippold said. “In the tiebreaker, I just wanted to make sure I was doing everything right.”
The duo did just that in the tiebreaker, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and building a 6-2 lead before a smash at the net gave them the first set 7-6 (7-3). And in the second set, both George and Dippold boomed big first serve after big first serve, setting up easy volleys and smashes in a 6-0 rout.
“Especially in the second set, that’s when our serves started kicking in. And that’s when we got our confidence,” George said. “We were just like ‘okay, we got that first set. Let’s finish this off.’ And we did.”
For Dippold, a junior, and George, a sophomore, it’s both the first year on the varsity team — and now a first trip to the district tournament, as well.
“To go from JV to districts …,” George said.
“… JV for two years to districts …,” Dippold added.
“I’m really proud of how far we’ve come this year,” George said. “At the start of the year, we struggled a little in how we played, but we’ve gotten it together later in the season.”
George and Dippold will face either Tecumseh’s Christian Hunt and Scot Sinkhorn, the No. 2 seed, in Saturday’s semifinal round. During the regular season, George and Dippold dropped that match in a pair of tiebreakers, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (8-6).
At singles, Genki Masunaga defeated Fairborn’s Janiel Buita 6-0, 6-0 before facing off against the tournament’s top seed, Butler’s Brandon Kreger, falling 6-1, 6-1 in that match. Henry Johnston defeated Wayne’s James Wong 6-0, 6-0 before running into the No. 2 seed, Sidney’s Prem Dev, falling in that match 6-1, 6-0. And Spencer Short defeated Piqua’s Noah Ruley by default before falling to the No. 4 seed, Sidney’s Grant Hoying, 6-1, 6-1.
The season also came to an end for the Piqua Indians at the sectional.
In singles, Cael Barr defeated Tecumseh’s Gavin Mefford-Gibbons 6-4, 6-3 before running into top-seeded Kreger, falling 6-0, 6-0. Jackson Elliott lost to Butler’s Ben French 6-0, 6-0. And at doubles, Ethan Hammer and Stephen Dolder lost to Springfield’s Grooms and Mistry 6-1, 6-3.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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