By Josh Brown
PIQUA — For the Troy tennis players, it was a year, three at most, in the making.
For coach Mark Goldner, it’s been a while longer.
Troy (17-1, 5-0 GWOC North) put the finishing touches on an outright Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division championship Tuesday — its first division title since 2003 — in convincing fashion with a 5-0 victory over the Piqua Indians at Piqua. It was also the tennis team’s first North division title ever, as the division was formed in 2007 and Butler has won it every year since.
“I’m just happy for the kids,” Goldner said. “They’ve been such a great group this year. They’ve all gotten along, and I’m really proud of their effort. It’s been a fun ride so far.
“We’ve been so close so many times against Butler, lost a lot of 3-2 matches over the years. A break here or there and things could’ve gone our way. Last year, it came down to Luke Oaks and Justin Kopronica, and unfortunately Justin just had his number last year, beat him three times. The kids have worked hard for this, and I’m really proud of them.”
“It’s just amazing,” said senior Matt Schmitt. “It’s one of those things that you hope for, then it seems to come out of nowhere. Once you’ve got it, you’re glad you worked so hard.”
In each of Schmitt’s last two seasons, the Trojans have lost to Butler 3-2, with a 4-1 loss to the Aviators during his freshman year. This year, though, the Trojans defeated Butler 4-1 — and that proved to be the only game they lost in division play all season, sweeping everyone else 5-0.
“It feels great knowing all the hard work paid off,” said sophomore Shane Essick, who played second singles on last season’s runner-up team. “It makes it 10 times sweeter. Being so close to beating them last year, then winning it fairly easily this year, it just feels so much better.”
“It feels a lot better, knowing how close we came last year but being able to finish this year,” said sophomore Elijah Sadler, who transitioned from first doubles last year to second singles this year. “I’m a little upset that Luke couldn’t have finished his senior year with the title last year, but once he finds out, I’m sure he’ll be proud of us.”
Schmitt and the Trojans’ two doubles teams — Andrew Magoteaux and Nick Prus, Carter Hench and Jack Johnston — all three made the championship official early on Tuesday by closing out their matches at the same time, in little more than a half hour. At third singles, Schmitt defeated Brandon Tisher 6-0, 6-1. At first doubles, Magoteaux and Prus defeated J.J. Rohrbach and Sean Hatke 6-1, 6-1. And at second doubles, Hench and Johnston — who moved up from JV last season — defeated Emily Williams and Brad McPherson 6-0, 6-0.
“It feels really good,” Magoteaux said. “We’ve improved a lot over last year and are a lot more comfortable as a team.”
“It feels pretty great,” Prus said. “I think we have a lot more confidence as a team than last year. Last year, we lost to Butler, and we weren’t ourselves for a few games after that. We didn’t pick it up again until the GWOC Tournament. This year, after the Alter match last Friday and this, we’ll be going into GWOC with a lot of confidence.”
Essick was the next to finish at first singles, defeating Tyler Lavey 6-3, 6-1. And at second singles, Sadler closed out a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Josh Hanes.
On Monday in Troy, the Trojans honored their seniors on Senior Day by blanking Tippecanoe (8-5), 5-0.
At third singles, senior Schmitt defeated Michael Gross 6-1, 6-1. And at second doubles, senior Hench and junior Johnston defeated Zach Wildermuth and Dylan Shomper 6-0, 6-2.
At first singles, Essick defeated Phillip Bullard 6-2, 6-0. At second singles, Sadler defeated Eric Staley 6-0, 6-0. At first doubles, Magoteaux and Prus defeated Sam and Casey Cronour 6-2, 6-1.
The Trojans travel to Centerville Thursday for the GWOC gold flight tournament and then take on Northmont Monday in one final head-to-head match before the Division I sectional tournament.
“The GWOC will still be tough,” Goldner said. “Centerville will be favored, and Springboro, but we’re hoping for a top four finish. Then we have Northmont on Monday and it’s on to the sectional.”
Lehman 3, Sidney 2
SIDNEY — The Lehman Cavaliers held off rival Sidney Monday for a narrow 3-2 victory, improving to 4-8 on the season.
At first singles, Griffin West won 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (1). At third singles, Will Hoersten won 6-2, 6-3. At first doubles, Sam Ritze and Malachi Bezy won 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.
At second singles, Ryan Goettemoeller lost 6-1, 6-3. At second doubles, Josh Armstrong and Sean Toner lost 6-1, 6-2.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.