By Josh Brown
TROY — As Nick Prus and Andrew Magoteaux tried to describe how the season has gone, they got tripped up by the numbers.
“Winning that match just now makes us 21-3 this year. Maybe. I know 20. Maybe 22, counting GWOC (the Greater Western Ohio Conference tournament) and today?” the two bantered back and forth.
It made Prus come to a realization.
“That’s when you know you’ve made it,” he said. “When you can’t remember how many wins you have.”
The duo cruised through the first day of the Division I sectional tennis tournament Thursday at Troy High School and Troy Community Park, dropping only one game in two matches and qualifying for next week’s district tournament — joining teammate Shane Essick, who dropped a total of three games in three matches and punched his district ticket for the second straight season.
Essick and the team of Prus and Magoteaux won their quarterfinal matches 6-0, 6-0 to advance to Saturday’s sectional semifinal round — and they may yet be joined by more Trojans, as the doubles team of Carter Hench and Jack Johnston still has to play its quarterfinal match on Friday after it was delayed by AP testing on Thursday.
Prus, a junior, and Magoteaux, a sophomore, were Troy’s second doubles team last season and stepped up to first doubles this year — earning the No. 1 seed for the sectional tournament. They showed how on Thursday, defeating Sidney’s Brady and Searcy 6-0, 6-1 and then Northmont’s Webb and Adkins 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the semifinals and qualify for district for the first time.
“It feels pretty great,” Prus said. “Last year, we got knocked out by (Tippecanoe’s) Keller brothers, so it feels great to get the chance to go to district and have a shot at getting to state.”
They will face Greenville’s Haupt and Manges, the Green Wave’s first and second singles players during the regular season who got past the No. 4 seed Thursday to reach the semis.
“We’re going to have to put in some work this week,” Magoteaux said. “After this week, we’re going to still have Centerville and all of those good Cincinnati schools to go up against at district.”
“This is new territory for Nick and Andrew, but I expect them to do well,” Troy coach Mark Goldner said. “They’ve been up to the challenge all year. They’ll face Greenville first and second singles. They’ll have an advantage in that they’ve played together in doubles all year, but Greenville’s kids will hit the ball harder than the other opponents they’ve seen, so they’ll have to be ready for that.”
Essick, meanwhile, made short work of his three opponents, as well. He defeated Stebbins’ Riley Timbrook 6-1, 6-0 and Greenville’s Austin Grote 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinal, then blanked Springfield’s Will Thompson 6-0, 6-0 to advance.
“It feels great to qualify for district for the second straight year, especially as a sophomore,” Essick said. “Last year helped a lot. The match to qualify for district was a close one. I lost in the first round at district, but it was a good experience. I’m happy I made it through today.”
“Shane played his best match this afternoon,” Goldner said, referring to the quarterfinal against Thompson. “He was all over that player. That’s good going into Saturday morning, because that’s going to be two tough matches.”
Essick, the No. 2 seed in the sectional, will face another sophomore in Tecumseh’s Mitchell Foland, the No. 4 seed, in the semifinal round, with a potential rematch against top-seeded Nick Pavlatos from Springfield in the final round.
“It’s going to be a pretty tough match against Foland,” Essick said. “I saw him play today, and he’s pretty good. If I get past him, I’ll probably play Nick again. He beat me during the regular season, but I beat him at the GWOC, so we’re pretty even right now. It’ll be tough.”
Troy’s second doubles team of Hench and Johnston is still in the running, too. They defeated Greenville’s Lance and Davis 6-0, 6-1 and Northmont’s Daniel and Lucas 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the semifinal round against the No. 3 seed, Butler’s Jackson and Patel. But since one of the players was taking an AP test, the teams chose to postpone the quarterfinal match a day.
“Carter and Jack beat Greenville’s first doubles team, and then they beat Northmont’s first doubles team,” Goldner said. “No matter how their quarterfinal match goes, a second doubles team beating two first in a day is pretty impressive.”
The season also came to an end for a pair of Trojans in singles play. Senior Matt Schmitt lost his first-round match 6-1, 6-3 to Bellefontaine’s Tyler Frantz, and sophomore Elijah Sadler lost his first-round match 6-0, 6-3 to Tecumseh’s Foland.
“Matt and Elijah both had a good year,” Goldner said. “For Elijah, he’s never played this much singles, day after day, before. Now he’ll know what to expect next year. He’s got some things to work on, but I know that he will. He was playing Tecumseh’s seeded player, and that’s a good player. He’ll learn from it and get better.
“Matt’s been our rock for three years at third singles (Schmitt played second doubles his freshman year). We could always count on him, especially in close matches. He was just so used to doing it. He played Bellefontaine’s first singles, who was up for a seed, and the kid played well. Matt will be greatly missed next year.”
The season also came to an end for the Piqua Indians, who had three players reach the quarterfinal round.
In singles play, Josh Hanes defeated Sidney’s Dylan Vonderheuvel 6-3, 6-3 and defeated Greenville’s Quintin Muhlenkamp 7-6 (6), 6-7 (6), 6-3, then lost to the top seed, Springfield’s Nick Pavlatos, 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinal round. Tyler Lavey defeated Stebbins’ Mike Huff 6-0, 6-0, then lost to Tecumseh’s Foland, 6-3, 6-0. J.J. Rohrbach lost to Greenville’s Austin Grote 6-1, 6-1.
In doubles play, Tisher and Hatke defeated Sidney’s Armstrong and Feree 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, then lost to the No. 2 seed, Tecumseh’s Eben and Sims, 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. Williams and McPherson lost to Tecumseh’s Mulkey and Adams 6-1, 6-2.
Troy’s Hench and Johnston will play their quarterfinal match at 4 p.m. Friday at Troy Community Park, then the semifinals will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Troy Community Park.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.