TROY — Troy boys tennis coach Mark Goldner had hig hopes when paired Yasashi Masunaga and Henry Johnston as a doubles team for the Troy D-I sectional.
The second seeded team is now headed to the Lindner Family Tennis Center as sectional champions after rallying to knock off Tippecanoe’s Aaron Davis and Luke Blake — the top seeds — 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“Yasashi (Masunaga) hasn’t played much doubles,” Goldner said. “They played in a tournament before the season and they did okay. Then, they played at the CJ Cup and they played against Beavercreek B and lost to a really good team. So, I figured Yasashi could learn to play doubles. They get better with every match.”
Johnston liked the feeling of being sectional champion.
“That is something I haven’t hear before,” he said with a smile.
And the turning point wasn’t hard to find.
After dropping the first set 6-2, Troy trailed 3-0 in the second set before winning six of the next seven games.
“When we were down 3-0, we were able to get two straight games and they just rode the momentum,” Goldner said. “I thought that was a turning point in the match.”
Masunaga said the key was a simple one.
“We just had to let everything go,” he said. “We just had to start winning points. I just think we wanted it more than they did.”
In the third set, Troy served for the match at 5-3 and had two match points, but Tipp waa able to battle back and make it 5-4.
But, Troy broke Tipp at love to finish off the match.
“You can’t let that bother you,” Johnston said about losing the previous game. “You just have to forget about that.”
“They did a good job of staying focused,” he said. “They didn’t let the previous game bother them.”
Earlier, they had beaten Tippecanoe’s Sean Nichols and Ryan Hartke — the third seed — 6-2, 6-7 (1), 6-0.
“Tippecanoe has an outstanding team,” Goldner said. “Both of their doubles teams are really good and to beat both of them, that is a pretty good accomplishment.”
Worthy of being sectional champions.
Milton-Union due of junior Tyler Kress and freshman Ben Iddings came up just short of their bid to be sectional champions.
After knocking off Urbana’s Kyle Rooney and Zch Hoskins — the second seed — 6-3, 6-1, they lost to Yellow Springs’ Ethan and Jason Knemeyer— the top seed — 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“We talked about the fact this was probably the two biggest matches these two have ever played in,” Milton-Union coach Kevin Brackman said. “To get through the Urbana team who had only lost five matches in the last year and came into the sectionals undefeated, that was a big win.”
Milton followed that by winning the first set against Yellow Springs.
“After that, we were just trying to stay calm and composed,” Brackman said. “Those two brothers bring their own energy and they are the defending sectional champions.”
It was another step for the duo who played singles all year.
“We are just trying to grow and learn with each match,” Brackman said. “They haven’t played a lot of doubles together, based on Ben (Iddings) being a freshman and them playing singles all year. We are happy with a two seed and hopefully get a good draw at district.”
The districts for D-I and D-II are Thursday at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.