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Blue Lions compete in district tennis tournaments

Blue Lions compete in district tennis tournaments


ATHENS – The three district qualifiers traveled to the Ohio University Tennis Center in Athens to compete in the district championships.

Doubles qualifiers Jon Rader and Nathan Upthegrove took their #6 seed into the match and faced the #3 seeded team of Hanes and Thornsberry of Unioto in the opening round.

Both teams played aggressively at times, but Unioto were consistently more effective in their net play, posting 13 winners between volleys and overheads in straight sets.

The Lions' efforts could not overcome the superior play of the Unioto pair, dropping the match in straight sets 1-6, 1-6.

The Unioto pair advanced to the next round, where they faced their teammates Lewis and Thomas, who were the #2 seed. They dispatched their compatriots and advanced to the final.

In the final, Hanes and Thornsberry defeated the 5th seed Logan Elm pair of Arledge & Higginbotham in straight sets to advance to the State Tourney.

For an ad hoc team organized at the end of the season, Rader and Upthegrove performed great and fell into the state qualifier.

On the singles side of the draw, No. 7 seed Blake Bagheri drew his new-found nemesis, No. 2 seed Max Navarro-Steffen of Marietta. Blake had dropped a quick two-set loss to the big serving Frenchman at Sectionals. After practicing this week to master a left-handed serve return, he performed much better against Max in his first round match, taking several games to deuce. In the end, Max's power overcame Blake in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.

Navarro-Steffan also rolled through his match in straight sets in the next round and advanced to the finals where he faced Waverly's Caden Nibert. NIbert had eliminated FAC Player of the Year Landon Smith in straight sets in the semi-finals to reach the final.

In the final, Navarro-Steffan quickly gained the upper hand by neutralizing Nibert's great volleys with his powerful forehands. Combined with his extremely powerful serve, he pulled off a quick two-set win to seal his path to the state tournament.

Blake, like his doubles teammates, ended his season with a loss to a state qualifier. A successful end to his final year.




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