ROCKY RIVER — It’s tough to beat a good team, or good tennis player, three straight times.
Rocky River’s Henry Grierson proved there’s validity in that old saying. He lost twice over the last two weeks to Chaz Henson of Vermilion. Saturday, though, was another story as he defeated the previously unbeaten Henson, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to win the Division II sectional championship at Tri-City Park.
In doubles, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Will Konstan and Spencer Knowles handled River’s Jon Lihan and Tim Smith 6-2, 6-2 in the morning’s semifinals before going on to defeat Colin Schmitz and Cole Ziegler of Fairview 6-3, 6-2 in the championship match.
Hansen won the first game in each of the championship match’s three sets but faltered after that in the first and third. Grierson held his serve throughout the first set and broke Hansen’s twice as the Vermilion junior made a number of unforced errors.
But you’re not undefeated through 25 matches for no reason. Hansen bounced back quickly in the second set, taking a 3-0 lead. It slipped to 3-2 before Hansen took command again over the next three games to tie the match at a set apiece.
After double-faulting to lose his serve and the second set, Grierson bounced back from a 1-0 deficit in the third to go up 5-1.
Hansen held his serve on the next point but it wasn’t enough as Grierson put the match away with a 6-2 third-set win.
Grierson defeated one of his best friends in winning the title.
“It’s a little strange, but fun,” he said of his match with Hansen. “I think it raises the competitiveness. I’ve lost to him twice and now I’ve won, but every match has gone three sets and they’re the toughest matches I’ve had this season.”
The two finalists have trained together since Grierson’s family moved to Rocky River last summer so there were no surprises for either during the finals.
“All our matches have gone three sets,” Hansen said. “If you play three, you’re bound to lose one.”
Grierson held his left-handed serve nine of 12 times, including all four in each of the first and third sets.
“His serve is huge,” Hansen said. “But I’ve played him twice and knew what to expect coming in.”
“These were two quality players,” Rocky River coach Jeff Sinnema said. “They work out together and have the same teaching pro. And they are perfect gentlemen on the court. They both reversed calls because they made mistakes.”
Hansen advanced to the finals by defeating Lake Ridge’s Caleb Mayer 6-4, 6-4. He had trouble at times with Mayer’s serve, but broke in the second set to go up 5-4, then held his own serve to advance to the finals.
“Chaz had an opportunity and took it,” Vermilion coach Joe Tellier said. “Mayer has a lot of movement on his serve. It’s deceptive and kicks funny and that can be harder to handle than a big serve.”
Meanwhile, Grierson defeated Roger Peckham, also of Lake Ridge, 6-2, 6-3. The two Lake Ridge sophomores met in the consolation match with Mayer winning 6-3, 6-3.
“He’s a really good player, so you want to play your best,” Mayer said after going up against Peckham. “We’ve played a lot together so we’re pretty familiar with each other.”
The consolation matchup made life easier in a way for Lake Ridge coach Rich Robbins.
“There wasn’t a lot of coaching to do,” he said with a laugh. “What I will do now is talk to them about what I’ve observed today, different strategies and how to approach things for the district.”
All the semifinalists had earned a berth in the district meet at Weis Park in Canton next Friday and Saturday. The winners and losers in the championship matches automatically have first and second seeds at districts. The consolation match opponents will be seeded third and fourth.
Sinnema is looking forward to the district meet, which is in a transition year.
“Looking at last year’s district singles qualifiers to Columbus — they’ve all graduated,” he said. “So it’s a clean slate this year.”
Contact Jim Jablonski at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Semifinals: Chaz Henson (Vermilion) def. Caleb Mayer (Lake Ridge), 6-4, 6-4; Henry Grierson (Rocky River) def. Roger Peckham (Lake Ridge), 6-2-6-3.
CONSOLATION: Mayer def. Peckham, 6-3, 6-3.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Grierson def. Henson, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
SEMIFINALS: Will Konstan-Spencer Knowles (Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) def. Jon Lihan-Tim Smith (Rocky River), 6-2, 6-2; Colin Schmitz-Cole Ziegler, (Fairview) def. Scott Geuther-Zach Messina (Bay),
CONSOLATION: Geuther-Messina def. Lihan-Smith, 6-4-7-5.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Konstan-Knowles def. Schmitz-Ziegler, 6-2 6-2.
Avon Lake’s Darkow-Miller finish second
OBERLIN — Avon Lake’s doubles team of James Darkow and Greg Miller claimed second at the Division I sectional tournament at Oberlin College on Saturday.
Darkow and Miller, the No. 2 seed, defeated third-seeded Stephen Fleischer and Kevin Wang of Westlake 6-3, 6-2 in a semifinal match before losing 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to top-seeded Chad Burton and Yaw Boakye of St. Ignatius in the championship match.
Top-seeded Colton Buffington of the Demons captured the singles championship, downing fourth-seeded Jeffrey Williams of St. Edward 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals and second-seeded Nathan Griffin of the Wildcats 6-0, 6-4 in the finals.
Westlake’s Connor Michelich took fourth.
SEMIFINALS: Colton Buffington (Westlake) def. Jeffrey Williams (St. Edward), 6-0, 6-0; Nathan Griffin (St. Ignatius) def. Connor Michelich (Westlake), 6-2, 6-0.
CONSOLATION: Williams def. Michelich, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Buffington def. Griffin, 6-0, 6-4.
SEMIFINALS: Chad Burton-Yaw Boakye (St. Ignatius) def. Kent Dinchman-Cal Craven (Westlake), 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-4; James Darkow-Greg Miller (Avon Lake) def. Stephen Fleischer-Kevin Wang (Westlake), 6-3, 6-2.
CONSOLATION: Dinchman-Craven def. Fleischer-Wang, 7-5, 6-3.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Burton-Boakye def. Darkow-Miller, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.