By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — Philip Brumbaugh and Luke Ferguson are adjusting to their new positions just fine.
Milton-Union’s first and second singles players won individual titles at the Schroeder Invitational held Saturday at Schroeder Tennis Center, leading the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish as a team with 33 total points to champion St. Marys Memorial’s 36.
Tippecanoe finished fourth with 25 points, one point behind Celina. Piqua was sixth with 15 points and Lehman was eighth with 10 points.
At first singles, Brumbaugh got his day started by defeating Piqua’s Tyler Lavey 8-1 and Celina’s Garrett Weininger 8-1 to set up a title match against Kenton Ridge’s Chris Kalweit. It was more of a battle than he’d had all day, but Brumbaugh prevailed 8-4.
“It was a good day. I played pretty well,” Brumbaugh said. “I had a good match there at the end, better than expected. But my serve was really working today.”
Brumbaugh had been the Bulldogs’ second singles player his first two seasons behind older brother Matt Brumbaugh — who he teamed up to play doubles with during last postseason, qualifying for the state tournament. But now that his brother has graduated, Philip Brumbaugh is settling into the first singles role.
“It’s been a big change,” he said. “Matt had always been the first singles player. I played some good players while at second, but at No. 1, it’s always a fight. I like it a lot more. I get a good match every time.”
Ferguson, meanwhile, had played at doubles his entire high school career before moving to second singles this season.
“I’d been playing doubles all three years before this,” Ferguson said. “It’s (moving to singles) been pretty fun. I’ve always liked singles more, so it wasn’t a hard transition. It’s just a new experience. I find something new in every match.”
Ferguson began play Saturday with an 8-0 win over Lehman’s Ryan Goetemoeller, then he defeated Celina’s Heath Laux 8-4 and St. Marys Memorial’s Riley Niekamp 8-3 to win it.
“It feels great,” Ferguson said of the first-place finish. “I had back-to-back matches that were both pretty tough. They’re both great players, but I managed to get it done.”
At third singles, Milton-Union’s Caleb Black finished third. He defeated Lehman’s Sean Toner 8-0, narrowly lost to Celina’s Drew Rosengarten 8-6 and then defeated Piqua’s J.J. Rohrback 8-1 in the finals.
At first doubles, Milton-Union’s Logan Dickison and Nick Brumbaugh defeated Celina’s Bryce Langenkamp and Kyle Lochtefeld 8-3, lost to Kenton Ridge’s Allen Howard and Nick Shonkwiler 8-5 and then defeated Tippecanoe’s Sam and Casey Kronour 8-0 to take third.
After those four positions, the overall team standings were tied 28-28 with St. Marys Memorial — but Milton-Union’s second doubles team played in the match for third and fourth place, while St. Marys Memorial was playing for the championship, mathematically eliminating the possibility of a team win. But Adam Knepper and Matt Brown solidified the Bulldogs’ hold on second with a fourth-place finish. They defeated Kenton Ridge’s Austin Paul and Jameson Zink 8-5 to start the day, lost to St. Marys Memorial’s Bo Ruending and Ben Henderson 8-5 and then lost to Northwestern’s Jack Reidinger and Andy Seale 8-6 in the finals.
Tippecanoe’s best finish came at second doubles, where Zach Wildermuth and Evan Hill defeated Celina’s Jon Raensch and Grant Guggenbiller 8-5 and Northwestern’s Reidinger and Seale 8-4 to reach the title match. But against Ruending and Henderson, the Devils fell behind 7-4, rallied back to 7-6 and lost 8-6 to finish as the runners-up.
“It was just a great day for them as a team,” Tippecanoe coach Kaci Finfrock said. “Today was a big confidence day for the entire team, but especially second doubles. They hadn’t played together a lot before today, but today they got a lot of reps together, got in sync and played well.”
At second singles, Tippecanoe’s Eric Staley defeated Piqua’s Josh Hanes 8-6, lost to St. Marys Memorial’s Niekamp 8-3 and defeated Celina’s Laux 8-5 to take third place.
At first doubles, Sam and Casey Kronour defeated Lehman’s Malachi Bezy and Josh Armstrong 8-6, lost to St. Marys Memorial’s Bobby Miller 8-3 and then lost to Milton-Union’s Dickison and Nick Brumbaugh 8-0 to take fourth.
At third singles, Michael Gross lost to Piqua’s Rohrbach 8-6, defeated Kenton Ridge’s Michelle Kulasekera 8-3 and defeated Northwestern’s Dana Coyle 8-0 to take fifth.
At first singles, Phillip Bullard lost to Kenton Ridge’s Kalweit 8-1, defeated Northwestern’s Jacob Boop 8-4 and then lost to Lehman’s Griffin West 9-7 to take sixth.
“I was proud of the whole team,” Finfrock said. “I felt each individual got better in some way today, either physically or intellectually, whether it was being able to hit a stroke or knowing which type of stroke to hit.
“Today was about getting a lot of reps — and that’s exactly what this team needs most. As a whole, we’re a pretty inexperienced team. Today, it wasn’t one and done. Today, it was one and then let’s fix things. That’s why we love coming to this tournament at Schroeder’s. It gets our boys the most tennis.”
For Lehman, West placed fifth at first singles, defeating Tippecanoe’s Phillip Bullard 9-7 in the finals. At second singles, Goetemoeller was sixth, losing to Piqua’s Hanes 8-5 in the finals. At third singles, Toner was eighth, losing to Kenton Ridge’s Kulasekera 8-2 in the finals. At first doubles, Malachi Bezy and Armstrong were eighth, losing to Piqua’s Brendan Tisher and Sean Harke 9-8 in the finals. And at second doubles, Clint Bezy and Max Miesse were eighth, losing to Piqua’s Emily Williams and Brad McPherson 8-6 in the finals.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.