OBERLIN — The Southwestern Conference Tournament came down to the wire Monday, and the final results threw the overall conference crown up for grabs.
Avon, fighting toe-to-toe with Westlake and Avon Lake, pulled ahead for good in the tourney when Mathias Hilton at third singles took home third place in the final match of the day.
The finish gave the Eagles 39 points, outlasting Westlake with 38 and the Shoremen with 36.
The tourney win put the overall conference title into a tie between Avon and Westlake, with the Demons having won the regular-season leg.
“We’re fighting hard to try and win conference against some tough competition,” Westlake first singles competitor Tyler Malin said. “I love playing on the inside track and I was really able to set my pace out there.”
Malin won the first singles bracket at Oberlin College, playing a clean match en route to a 6-1, 6-0 finals victory over Avon Lake’s Spencer Gray.
Westlake took first in three of the five events, yet still fell short.
The Demons seemed destined to be victorious when the team of Amin Boukzam and Terrence Zheng wrapped up the first doubles bracket with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Avon’s Trevor Barrett and Aaron Austinson.
Boukzam helped Westlake reach match point with a beautiful backhand followed by a strong return, bringing the fans to their feet.
“We never lost our momentum and we were able to hit some big shots,” Boukzam said. “We usually play well here and today was like a home-court advantage.”
Avon just continued to chip away and pile up points throughout the tournament, always staying within striking distance.
On top of finishing second in first doubles, the Eagles finished second in second singles (Jack Hindman) and third in third singles (Hilton).
Avon Lake used a similar path, consistently finishing in the top four.
The Shoremen’s lone first-place finisher, Michael Mandel, dominated the second singles bracket.
The senior, who is 8-0 in SWC play this season, breezed to a 6-1, 6-0 victory as he led Avon Lake’s strong showing.
“This conference has always been known to be one of the strongest in the area,” Mandel said. “I’ve been working very hard for this and it feels really good to win it my senior year.”
The Shoremen finished with a first, a second and two thirds.
“I thought our entire team did a good job of representing us in this tournament,” Mandel said.
Westlake’s Jake Palmer won the third singles bracket, making quick work of the competition. Palmer cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win, using a dominant serve to stifle his opponent from Olmsted Falls.
This is Palmer’s first year playing tennis.
“I have been getting really comfortable out there and wins like this continue to motivate me,” he said. “This will be a good tune-up as we get ready for sectionals.”
Amherst and Olmsted Falls rounded out the top five with 28 and 23 points.