By Josh Brown
TROY — Three courts side-by-side at Troy Community Park.
Two of them at Troy High School.
The Division II sectional tennis tournament quarterfinal round had a very distinct Milton-Union look to it.
The Bulldogs’ entire team was playing in five simultaneous qualify-for-district matches Tuesday at Troy’s two sectional tournament sites, and when all was said and done, singles players Matt and Phillip Brumbaugh and the doubles team of Kenton Dickison and Jack Blevins all advanced to Saturday’s semifinal round and qualified for next week’s district tournament.
It’s just been that kind of year for the Bulldogs, who only lost once during the regular season.
“We’ve had a really good year,” Milton-Union coach Roger Davidson said. “We had a lot of success at the Schroeder Invitational and in the league, and now this is like a second season. The kids have been waiting for this day.”
Particularly junior Matt Brumbaugh, who has been to the state tournament each of the past two years. He started out his quest to get back with three easy victories, beating Brookville’s Tommy Martin 6-0, 6-0 and Northeastern’s Brandon Stokes 6-1, 6-0 before knocking off Northwestern’s Jason Demeter 6-0, 6-0 in the quartefinals.
“We’ve got a good this year, and we’ve been able to set our team goals higher. It’s been neat,” said Brumbaugh, who went to state alone his freshman year and then was accompanied by the doubles team of Kenton Dickison and Jack Blevins last year. “I don’t want to call anything, we’ve still got to play our best, but it’d be great to get more there.”
His younger brother Phillip Brumbaugh, a freshman, will be joining him at the district tournament and in the sectional finals on Saturday. The younger Brumbaugh defeated Lehman’s Kevin McElroy 6-2, 6-0 and Cedarville’s Jared Gillespie 6-1, 6-0 before defeating Northeastern’s Christian Oberg 6-2, 6-0 in the quarters — playing that quarterfinal match on the court right next to his brother Matt.
“I thought it was kind of cool, having all three Milton guys lined up on courts right next to each other,” Phillip Brumbaugh said. I was really excited. I was nervous coming into today, because I have problems wth pressure sometimes. But once I got on the court, I just had fun out there. I was really happy I made it.”
Jake Blevins had a chance to make it a singles sweep after beating Brookville’s Jeremy Behnken 6-4, 6-3 and Lehman’s Thomas Covault 6-3, 6-2. But he ran into Yellow Springs freshman Augie Knemeyer — who had just upset Northeastern’s No. 4 seed Tyler Haerr in three sets — and Knemeyer advanced with a 6-2, 6-0 win in the quarterfinals.
“Matt’s been playing well all year. He hasn’t lost yet,” Davidson said. “And Phillip has been playing well the past couple weeks. Jake just ran into a guy that hit everything back and made very few mistakes.”
Unseeded Knemeyer will play top seed Matt Brumbaugh Saturday in the semifinals, while No. 3 Phillip Brumbaugh will face Shawnee’s Daniel Detrick, the No. 2 seed.
“It’s still tough,” Matt Brumbaugh said. “No matter who you’re playing, you’ve got to come out here with the same mindset, play your best and let the rest just happen.”
No one knows that better than the doubles team of seniors Kenton Dickison and Jack Blevins — the top seed in the doubles bracket — who defeated Cedarville 6-3, 6-0 and then routed Northeastern 6-1, 6-0 in the quarters to qualify for district again.
“It’s a different year, definitely a new challenge, just with new kids on the team,” Kenton Dickison said. “Our goals still haven’t changed.”
“It’s kind of nice — our senior year, going along the same routine, but just with a better us,” Jack Blevins said.
Last season, the duo went to district as the No. 2 seed but still qualified for the state tournament. And having done that once already, they both know what it takes and yet don’t feel the pressure to repeat.
“We’ve already been there once, so that’s something we’ve accomplished already,” Blevins said. “We still want to get there again, but if we don’t it’s no harm.”
“We’ve reached our goals, but our goals have never really been a set thing,” Dickison said. “We’re both competitors and always want to improve. The competition’s going to change, but we may be more comfortable going up against it.
“Saturday’s going to be tough, the sectional’s always tough. But we went to district as a No. 2 seed and qualified for state last year. You just never know. You’re still going to play great teams no matter what. Obviously, we hope we’re peaking at the right time.”
In Saturday’s semifinal, they will face Lehman’s third-seeded team of Noah Dunn and Josh West, who beat Yellowe Springs 6-1, 6-1, Urbana 6-3, 6-0 and Greenon 6-1, 6-1 to advance.
Milton-Union’s fourth-seeded doubles team of sophomores Logan Dickison and Luke Ferguson also reach the quarterfinals, defeating Northridge 6-2, 6-0. But they ran into a tough Urbana team that limited its errors and took the first set from Milton 6-1, and while the Bulldog duo rallied to take a 6-5 lead in the second set, Urbana came right back and won the second-set tiebreaker 7-6 (7-0).
“We were hoping to take six guys to district,” Davidson said. “Kenton and Jack have been playing well. Urbana’s team played well, too, and made less mistakes. But the good thing is that Logan and Luke are just sophomores.
“It was a good day all-in-all. We got guys in position to win, but just came up short on a couple of them.”
Lehman’s second-seeded doubles team of Sam Dean and Mitchell Shroyer also qualified for the district touranament and will be back to play on Saturday. They defeated Shawnee 6-3, 7-5 and Kenton Ridge 7-5, 6-4 to advance.
Covault defeated Hayden Parrill 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 before falling to Jack Blevins, and McElroy won a 6-4, 6-3 preliminary match over Greenon’s Ryan Dewey before falling to Phillip Brumbaugh. Peter Comer won a 6-0, 6-0 preliminary over Yellow Springs Dylan Dietrich before falling 6-0, 6-0 to Greenon’s Austin Porter.
The semifinal round kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday at Troy Community Park alongside the D-I semifinals, with both singles and doubles playing at the Park.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.