AVON LAKE — Westlake has ruled the Southwestern Conference, winning 15 straight league titles.
The Demons kept that SWC dominance going Thursday afternoon, defeating Avon Lake 3-2 on a windy day on the Avon Lake tennis courts.
Westlake’s Cal Craven, who was a state qualifier in doubles last season, defeated James Darkow, 6-1, 6-4, but had to hold off a Darkow rally in the second set to pull out the win in first singles.
“I was hitting with the wind and trying to make him work,” Craven said. “I knew it was going to be a tough match. I know some of the guys on Avon Lake and they’re always gunning for me. I knew I had to go out there and get one for my team.”
Westlake freshman Aris Jhaveri pulled off a big upset at second singles, defeating Tim Villari 6-1, 6-4. Jhaveri showed a lot of poise and was active around the net, causing fits for the more experienced Villari.
“I just tried to focus on keeping the ball in play with all the wind,” Jhaveri said. “I practice a lot. I feel very committed and I’m ready to go up against any senior.
“I don’t get nervous at all. I feel very comfortable. I won’t be intimidated and I don’t want to come across cocky, but I have a lot of confidence right now. I’m glad I was able to help my team out.”
Avon Lake salvaged a win at third singles as Austin Rice defeated Cyrus Kharche 6-2, 6-4, thanks to a strong service game.
“It was crazy with the winds and all,” Rice said. “I was just trying to get as many shots back as possible and try to make him work for every point that I could.
“Avon Lake and Westlake are big rivals. It was nice to come out here and get a win. I feel like I’m playing really well. I’ve been working all offseason for this so I feel like I’m at the peak of my game right now.”
The teams split in doubles. Westlake’s Kent Dinchman and Thomas Reusser defeated Matt Sladek and Oliver Wilhelm 6-1, 6-1, while Avon Lake’s Matt Duskey and James Moore came back from a 5-1 deficit in the tiebreaker and scored six straight points to win the match 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5).
“Whether it’s 3-2, 4-1 or 5-0, it’s still a ‘W’ in our column,” Westlake coach Jeffrey Mannies said. “Both teams played two opponents today, the wind and the person across the net from them. That’s a part of the game. It’s certainly a part of spring in Northeast Ohio.”
Despite the loss, Avon Lake coach Adam Slabodnick was pleased with his team’s play and knows it’s getting closer and closer to beating Westlake, which it hasn’t done in quite some time.
“Westlake was definitely the better team today,” Slabodnick said. “We like our future here. We know that we’re much closer to competing. This is the first time in a long time we didn’t lose a 6-0 set to Westlake.”
Westlake 3, Avon Lake 2
SINGLES: Cal Craven (W) def. James Darkow, 6-1, 6-4; Aris Jhaveri (W) def. Tim Villari, 6-1, 6-4; Austin Rice (AL) def. Cyrus Kharche, 6-2, 6-5.
DOUBLES: Kent Dinchman-Thomas Reusser (W) def. Matt Sladek-Oliver Wilhelm, 6-1, 6-1; Matt Duskey-James Moore (AL) def. Pranay Reusser-Ameesh Shah, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5).