OBERLIN — Before Tuesday, the only Avon tennis player — boy or girl — to make it to districts was Carmela Mostardi.
She made it twice, in fact, most recently as a senior in 2011.
So it was only fitting that another Mostardi would blaze the trail as the only Eagles boys tennis player to make district.
“It runs in the family,” Avon coach Art Gibbs said after watching freshman Nico Mostardi, Carmela's brother, win all three of his matches Tuesday on the first day of the Division I Northeast sectional tournament at Oberlin College’s Don Hunsinger Tennis Courts.
Mostardi, the No. 2 seed, advanced to Saturday’s semifinals.
Not only was he the only Avon tennis player to punch his ticket to districts, he was also the lone Lorain County player to do so.
“It feels really good to be the first one,” said Mostardi, who lost just one match all season. “I’m glad I can do this for my team and be able to represent us next week at districts and hopefully beyond.
“One of my goals was to get through sectionals and reach districts, and I succeeded in that. Now my goal is to at least win my semifinal match, because as a third- or fourth-place finisher you’ll have to face another sectional champ or sectional runner-up in the first round at districts, and I want to get the best matchup possible so I can try to make a run at states.”
Mostardi, who had a first-round bye, began his day with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Amherst’s Zach Sroka, then downed North Olmsted’s Aravind Kalluri by the same score.
In the quarterfinals, he got his best match of the tournament from St. Ignatius’ Karl Fehn. However, Mostardi still dominated, winning 6-1, 6-2 to clinch his spot in next week’s district tournament, which is back at Oberlin College.
Mostardi plays third-seeded Jeffrey Williams of St. Edward on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the semifinals.
There were a few other Lorain County players that reached the quarterfinals and a couple others who won multiple matches.
But it was Avon Lake seniors Austin Wright and Jack O’Neill who had the best shot besides Mostardi of moving on.
Wright and O’Neill, desperately trying to not only extend their high school careers for one more week but also extend Avon Lake’s streak of district qualifiers to four consecutive seasons, gave fourth-seeded Kent Dinchman and Kevin Wang of Westlake a fight for their lives.
Dinchman and Wang prevailed, however, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in three hard-fought sets.
“We played Kevin and Kent three times this year, and every single match was pretty close,” O’Neill said. “This one was the closest of the three. This was a really tough match. It’s unfortunate we lost, but they beat us. It wasn’t like either of us beat ourselves. You’ve got to give them credit.
“It was a tough match, but I’m proud of our effort. We let it all hang out because we knew this could be our final match. We wanted to make it memorable, and I think we did that.”
Wright and O’Neill, who came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the first set, led 2-1 in the third before the Demons picked up three straight wins to take control. They tied it at 4 and at 5, but the Demons won the final two games to conclude the marathon bout.
“We gave it our all,” Wright said. “You can’t help but think about a couple points here and there that we missed that could have helped us pull through. But I was really happy with how we did.”
Avon Lake junior Tim Villari reached the quarterfinals for the first time by only dropping one game in his first two matches. However, after taking a 2-1 lead, Villari lost 11 straight games to the third-seeded Williams, and he was eliminated 6-2, 6-0.
“I got through the first round as a freshman and I got through the second round as a sophomore, so to continue to improve by another round this year is great,” Villari said. “Having a first-round bye helped. It gave me confidence, knowing that I wouldn’t have to play all day to try to make this kind of run.
“I did a good job moving my feet and keeping my energy up. I was able to get into a zone and keep an even temper, and I think it paid off. Hopefully, next year I can take the next step of reaching the semifinals and districts.”
Avon had three other players come within a match of joining Mostardi at districts — senior Macklin Robbins and the team of sophomore Chance Nicklaus and senior Tyler Badt.
Robbins, who had a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 win over Westlake’s Aakash Shah and a 6-1, 7-6 (12-10) third-round win over Midpark’s Adam Poschner, ran out of gas in the quarterfinals. Top-seeded Nathan Griffin of St. Ignatius defeated Robbins 6-0, 6-0 to punch his ticket to districts.
Nicklaus and Badt reached the quarterfinals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over North Olmsted’s Ernest Oleksy and Tim Donohue. However, they were dominated by the second-seeded Connor Michelich and Cal Craven of Westlake, 6-0, 6-0, to give the Demons two district-qualifying doubles teams.
Midview senior Kevin Grau and Amherst sophomore Cory Habecker each won their first two matches to put them each in the third round, just two victories shy of district berths. However, Grau lost to Fehn 6-3, 6-4, while Habecker lost to Williams 6-0, 6-1.
Had either of them won, they would have had to come back Friday afternoon to play their quarterfinal bout. By rule, players are allowed a maximum of three matches per day.
“My second match was long and I had a little bit of trouble,” said Habecker, who advanced to the third round with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Westlake’s Thomas Reusser. “I really didn’t know how to play the kid and it took me a while to figure it out. Ironically, I lost to the same kid I did last year, although I got one round deeper. This is definitely something to build on.”
Grau reached the third round with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Elyria’s Scotty Behmer.
“It feels good to get a few wins here,” he said. “You always want to go as far as you can in sectionals, so to win two matches and advance to the third round is a great accomplishment.”
Saturday’s Semifinal Pairings
(Top 4 Advance to districts)
Nathan Griffin (St. Ignatius) vs. Jake Dubusker (St. Edward)-Sean Frebes (St. Ignatius) winner; Jeffrey Williams (St. Edward) vs. Nico Mostardi (Avon).
Quarterfinals — Griffin def. Macklin Robbins (Avon), 6-0, 6-0; Dubusker vs. Frebes (Friday); Williams def. Tim Villari (Avon), 6-2, 6-0; Mostardi def. Karl Fehn (St. Ignatius), 6-1, 6-2.
Third Round — Robbins def. Adam Poschner (Midpark), 6-1, 7-6 (12-10); Villari def. Tommy Byrne (Normandy), 6-1, 6-0; Williams def. Cory Habecker (Amherst), 6-0, 6-1; Fehn def. Kevin Grau (Midview), 6-3, 6-4; Mostardi def. Aravind Kalluri (North Olmsted), 6-0, 6-0.
Second Round — Griffin def. Quinn Miller (Amherst), 6-1, 6-0; Poschner def. Jason Grau (Midview), 6-3, 6-3; Robbins def. Aakash Shah (Westlake), 5-7, 6-3, 6-2; Dubusker def. Dan March (Elyria), 6-0, 6-0; Villari def. Tim Dehrmann (Valley Forge), 6-0, 6-0; Habecker def. Thomas Reusser (Westlake), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; Williams def. Oliver Berger (Avon), 6-0, 6-0; Grau def. Scott Behmer (Elyria), 6-1, 6-0; Mostardi def. Zach Sroka (Amherst), 6-0, 6-0.
First Round — Miller def. Christian Kovacevic (Valley Forge), 6-2, 6-4; Zach Buchta (Olmsted Falls) def. Stephen Bickford (North Ridgeville), 6-1, 6-1; Grau def. Jeff Emilio (Elyria), 6-0, 6-0; Shah def. Jimmy Chase (Avon Lake), 6-4, 6-4; Matt Vales (Normandy) def. Cory Gable (North Ridgeville), 6-1, 6-2; Jason McNulty (North Olmsted) def. Austin Rice (Avon Lake), 7-5, 6-4; Habecker def. David Brunner (North Olmsted), 6-0, 6-1; Berger def. Chris Andre de la Porte (Midview), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; Grau def. Brian Priore (North Ridgeville), 6-0, 6-1; Sroka def. Ray Klebowski (Midpark), 6-3, 6-2.
Saturday’s Semifinal Pairings
(Top 4 Advance to districts)
Christian Zuber-Yaw Boakye (St. Ignatius) vs. Kent Dinchman-Kevin Wang (Westlake); Connor Michelich-Cal Craven (Westlake) vs. Nick Siciliano-Bob Kirchner (St. Ignatius).
Quarterfinals — Zuber-Boakye def. Rares Botosneanu-Davesh Chauhan (North Olmsted), 6-0, 6-0; Dinchman-Wang def. Austin Wright-Jack O’Neill (Avon Lake), 6-7, 6-4, 7-5; Michelich-Craven def. Chance Nicklaus-Tyler Badt (Avon), 6-0, 6-0; Siciliano-Kirchner def. Chris Brinich-Chris Richardson (Lakewood), 6-3, 6-1.
Third Round — Wright-O’Neill def. Nathan Nakon-Dylan Nguyen (Midpark), 7-5, 6-1; Dinchman-Wang def. Aaron Tolson-Scott Peggs (Elyria), 6-0, 6-1; Michelich-Craven def. Patrick McCormick-Casey Flowers (Elyria), 6-0, 6-0; Nicklaus-Badt def. Ernest Oleksy-Tim Donohue (North Olmsted), 2-6, 6-3, 6-1; Siciliano-Kirchner def. Eric Stonecipher-Hunter Tharp (Avon Lake), 6-1, 6-0.
Second Round — Zuber-Boakye def. John Scalli-Jordan Kneisel (Amherst), 6-0, 6-1; Botosneanu-Chauhan def. Shaun Alexander-Navi Baskar (Avon), 6-3, 6-0; Wright-O’Neill def. Alex Kristic-Tim Barnett (Normandy), 6-1, 6-0; Nakon-Nguyen def. Eric Oster-Joe Scott (North Ridgeville), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Tolson-Peggs def. Brad Schmidt-Ryan Caithami (Midview), 6-1, 6-4; McCormick-Flowers def. Ja’Neil Thornton-Aline Westermann (John Marshall), 6-0, 6-0; Nicklaus-Badt def. Tom Wynne-Scott Priddy (Midview), 6-2, 6-1; Oleksy-Donohue def. Harry Higgins-Sterling Voss (Amherst), 6-0, 6-0; Stonecipher-Tharp def. Brendan Esber-Jay Willis (North Ridgeville), 6-0, 6-0.
First Round — Scalli-Kneisel (Amherst) def. Dan Murphy-Kurt Cicirella (Valley Forge), 6-1, 6-1.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.