MEDINA - Billy Barnes and Dave Fleischer claimed not to have known how critical it was that they win their match.
"No, but from your tone of voice I`d say it was very important," said Barnes in response to the question of whether he and Fleischer, his partner at No. 1 doubles, were aware of what had transpired on another court at Medina High School.
Brian Gottfried and Abhi Ramachandran, Westlake`s No. 2 doubles pair and the No. 1 seed at the position, had just been upset by Avon Lake`s Alex Thum and Ben Troyer, a pair Gottfried and Ramachandran had beaten twice during the regular season, in the championship match of Saturday`s Southwestern Conference tournament.
That made it essential that Barnes and Fleischer prevail in their match. The Westlakers had gone to a tiebreaker in the third set of their match with Brecksville`s Brandon Rago and Matt Dietrich as the No. 2 doubles contestants were leaving the court.
"We were only aware that it would be a close match," Fleischer said.
Barnes and Fleischer won the first set, 6-4. Rago and Dietrich took the next one, 6-2. The third set see-sawed until a tiebreaker had to decide it. Barnes and Fleicher were ahead 6-2, then lost the next two points before finally finishing off the Brecksville opponents.
That match virtually assured Westlake the tournament championship. The Demons got into the championship round in all five matches, with four of those battles against Brecksville. With Colton Buffington, rated the No. 1 high school player in Ohio by the USTA, almost assured of victory at No. 1 singles, Westlake was in good shape when it won at first doubles.
When Buffington eventually won his match 6-0, 6-2 over the Bees` Arjun Khadilkar, Westlake had 32 points. That made the other two championship matches, which were eventually won by Brecksville, a non-factor. Brecksville ended with 31 points.
"It was amazing," Fleischer said. "Since Billy and I were freshmen we had never had everyone get to the finals. It shows how much we have improved."
Both Barnes and Fleischer are seniors.
"There has never been this kind of chemistry before," Barnes said.
"Between the two of us or the whole team," Fleischer added.
The victory at the conference tournament gave Westlake half of the SWC championship. The other half will be decided via head-to-head competition between schools. The Bees and the Demons have yet to meet in regular-season play, having endured four rainouts already. The two are scheduled to play Thursday.
"I am very satisfied with how my players have played," Westlake coach Jeff Mannies said. "They showed tenacity and sportsmanship. They were able to win and lose with humility."
Thum and Troyer almost played spoiler to the Demons` chances. As it turned out, the success of the Avon Lake duo might`ve hurt Brecksville more. Thum and Troyer beat Brecksville`s Lucas Wismer and Henry Wesser, 7-5, 6-3, in a semifinal match before pinning a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 decision on Gottfried and Ramachandran.
The two previous matches between those pairs had also been in three sets. Avon Lake won the first set in all three matches.
"When we played the other sets, we had to keep pretending it was the first set," Thum said.
The two said they didn`t do anything different mechanically from the first two matches.
"We probably had a better mind-set," Thum said. "This time, we decided we would not get down on ourselves. The other matches were close and we knew we could win."
Both of Brecksville`s top-seeded players were champions. Paul Forbush outlasted Westlake`s Jason Wissman, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 at No. 2 singles, and Alex O`Dell defeated Brent Anstead of Westlake, 6-2, 6-4 at No. 3 singles.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westlake 32, Brecksville 31, Avon Lake 19, Amherst 18, North Olmsted 16, Olmsted Falls 14, Berea 8, Midpark 2.
NO. 1 SINGLES: Colton Buffington (W) def. Rahal Mital (NO), 6-0, 6-1; Arjun Khadilkar (Br) def. Lee Ferber (Am), 6-1, 6-0; Rob Clayton (AL) def. Alex Kalnasy (M), 6-0, 6-1; Sean Kloock (OF) def. Tommy Siloy (Be), 6-0, 6-1.
NO. 2 SINGLES: Paul Forbush (Br) won by default; Jake Engle (Am) def. Michael Snelly (OF), 6-1, 6-3; Jason Wissman (W) def. Tony Certo (Be), 6-0, 6-1; Chris Conway (NO) def. Adam Gross (AL), 0-6, 6-1 (10-7).
NO. 3 SINGLES: Alex O`Dell (Br) def. Colin Kloock (OF), 6-1, 6-1; Brent Anstead (W) def. Kyle Storer (NO), 6-2, 6-3; Cass Svigeli (Be) def. Brad Appleton (AL), 7-5, 6-2; Tommy Hobson (Am) def. Sean Felder (M), 6-1, 6-1.
NO. 1 DOUBLES: Dave Fleischer and Billy Barnes (W) def. Paul Hanna and Kevin Pardis (OF), 6-0, 6-1; Brandon Rago and Matt Dietrich (Br) def. Nick Trzeciak and Kevin McNutt (AL), 7-5, 6-1; Andy Heitmann and Pat Conway (NO) def. Spencer Dykes and David Sanchez (M), 6-1, 6-2; Matt Willard and Ryan Orseno (Am) def. Tim Schaefer and Kevin Siloy, 6-3, 6-2.
NO. 2 DOUBLES: Brian Gottfried and Abhi Ramachandran (W) def. Bryan Deekon and Ryan Robertitsch (N), 6-3, 6-2; Alex Thum and Ben Troyer (AL) def. Aaron Garrett and Ken Postel (M), 6-2, 6-0; Lucas Wismer and Henry Wesser (Br) def. Chad Flanich and Eric Knezeuich (Be), 6-0, 6-0; Robb Evans and Alex Snelly (OF) def. Alex Flock and Mark Ferber (Am), 6-4, 6-7 (13-11).
NO. 1 SINGLES: Buffington (W) def.
S. Kloock (OF), 6-4, 6-1; Khadilkar (Br) def. Clayton (AL), 6-3, 6-2.
NO. 2 SINGLES: Forbush (Br) def. Conway (NO), 6-1, 6-2; Wissman (W) def. Engle (Am), 6-3, 6-0.
NO. 3 SINGLES: O`Dell (Br) def. Hobson (Am), 6-1, 6-2; Anstead (W) def. Svigeli (Be), 6-2, 6-4.
NO. 1 DOUBLES: Fleischer and Barnes (W) def. Willard and Orseno (Am), 6-3, 6-2; Rago and Dietrich (Br) def. Heitmann and P. Conway (NO), 6-1, 6-2.
NO. 2 DOUBLES: Gottfried and Ramachandran (W) def. Evans and A. Snelly (OF), 6-1, 6-3; Thum and Troyer (AL) def. Wismer and Wesser (Br), 7-5, 6-3.
NO. 1 SINGLES: Buffington (W) def. Khadilkar (Br), 6-0, 6-2.
NO. 2 SINGLES: Forbush (Br) def. Wissman (W), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
NO. 3 SINGLES: O`Dell (Br) def. Anstead (W), 6-2, 6-4.
NO. 1 DOUBLES: Fleischer and Barnes (W) def. Rago and Dietrich (Br), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4).
NO. 2 DOUBLES: Thum and Troyer (AL) def. Gottfried and Ramachandran (W), 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.