Demons tennis season blitz continues
St. Ed’s Tournament Drama
Team tournaments once again provided season highlights for the Westlake Demons tennis team. The Demons once again were invited to do battle with seven of the region's top tennis powers in the all-day St. Edward invitational on April 9. All nine varsity members played and won at least one match.
In one of the best match-ups of elite players in Ohio, the Demons' Aris Jhaveri treated the throng of appreciative onlookers to a dramatic battle against St. Ignatius first singles player Josh Hsia – falling to the eventual champion in a third-set tiebreaker by a score of 11-9.
As the day wore on it became evident that Westlake would have a chance at an unexpected second-place finish – but after its second doubles team of Leah Chobin and Darin O'Meara fell in the finals, it would need victories in its final two matches to get past Perrysburg.
The pressure was on Amin Boukzam, who stepped in at 3rd singles to try and win a fifth-place match for the Demons. He raced to a 6-1 advantage before his opponent found the range and closed the gap to 6-5 and then 7-6. Amin regrouped and blasted several service winners to close out the victory, 8-6, for the Demons.
The final piece of the puzzle now became the third-place match against Perrysburg for the Demons' first doubles tandem of Avi Kirpekar and Eddie Schartman, who had lost the heartbreaking third set in the season opener against Copley. The teams split the first two sets and the tension went through the roof for the third-set tiebreaker. This time there would not be a let-down as Avi and Eddie raised the roof with one bomb after another and pulled out the tiebreaker victory in convincing fashion to seal the second-place team championship for the Demons.
Conference Tournament Showdown
After Avon Lake ground out a marathon 3-2 match victory over Westlake in early April, ending the Demons' 10-year undefeated conference streak, the Shoremen netters proved the victory was no fluke. The Shoremen stormed through the remaining Southwestern Conference schedule undefeated and entered the SWC tournament as the favorites.
All nine SWC teams contributed some great play to the action but the Demons stepped up to make the finals at five positions and the Shoremen placed finalists into four positions, setting up another showdown to see which school would emerge with the team championship.
The third singles final was the first final to be played, pitting Darin O’Meara of Westlake against Chris Bailey of Avon Lake. The tension was high as players and fans from both teams focused on a match that would clearly put one team in the driver’s seat. After a close 3-all beginning to the first set, O’Meara turned up the intensity and played nearly flawless tennis the rest of the way to avenge his early season loss to Bailey of Avon Lake and claim the SWC title at third singles, 6-3, 6-2.
The momentum from the early win propelled the Demons in the four other finals played 48 hours later. At first singles, Aris Jhaveri and Miller Buchholz of Berea Midpark put on an incredibly entertaining display of elite-level tennis. With pulverizing groundstrokes, the intensity and focus of Jhaveri led him to a conclusive 6-0, 6-0 victory. In the second singles final, Sean Padden of Westlake combined dominating serves with consistent baseline play to overwhelm Aidan Shoop of Avon Lake for the championship, 6-1, 6-0.
At first doubles Avi Kirpeckar and Leah Choban were in perfect synchrony for the Demons and methodically vanquished the top-seeded Avon Lake team of Goetz and Lendal, 6-2, 6-1.
At second doubles, veteran Eddie Shartman had all weapons firing as he teamed with Kyle Zuricky to complete the Demons' sweep of all five finals, 6-3, 6-2, and win the SWC Tournament team championship.
The outcome left Demons coach Saumil Jhaveri feeling supremely confident in his players heading into the upcoming sectional tournament.
Westlake resident since 1998, married, 2 kids who attend westkake schools, work at Rainbow as pediatrician