Northwestern senior Corbin Fuschino was already facing challenges in his No. 3 singles championship match at the Clark County Tennis Tournament on Friday.
First, there was a steady wind that consistently hit 20 mph, causing serves to curve wide and lobs to sometimes do a U-turn back over the net. Playing for an individual championship added more pressure. And Fuschino was doing it against an opponent who had beaten him earlier in the week.
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And if that wasn’t enough there was this: during his championship match with Tecumseh’s Jacob Lewis, Fuschino’s teammates informed him if he won the match the Warriors would claim what’s believed to be their first Clark County team title in program history.
“I wasn’t going to tell him because I didn’t want to put the pressure on him,” Northwestern assistant coach Jeff Springer said. “But the other players told him if you win this match we win the championship.”
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Corbin, seeded No. 2 in the bracket, responded with an 8-3 victory over top-seeded Lewis. That gave Northwestern 35 points, just enough to edge Northeastern (33) and Tecumseh (32). The Jets have finished runner-up four straight seasons while the Arrows saw their two-year championship streak snapped.
“Corbin was pumped up. He was determined to win that match,” Springer said. “We have some kids who are competitors. They don’t like to lose. I wouldn’t have told him. But he came through and won so we’ll live with it.”
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Northwestern’s championship on its home courts was solidified with one individual championship (Fuschino), three runner-up finishes at No. 1 singles (Matt Yeager) and No. 1 doubles (Nathan Wildofsky & Camron Smyczek) and No. 2 doubles (Jaer Glass & Luke Macy). The Warriors finished fourth at No. 2 singles (Reilly Smith).
Northeastern claimed one championship at No. 2 singles and finished third in the other four positions. Tecumseh had one runner-up finish, one third place and a pair of fourth place finishes.
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Northwestern and Tecumseh had met earlier in the week with the Arrows taking a 4-1 win in Central Buckeye Conference play, but three of those matches went the full three sets. On Friday it was the Warriors that went 3-2 in head-to-head matchups vs. Tecumseh.
“We were able to stay focused and come back. They took it as a challenge that we lost such a close match to them earlier in the week that we wanted to get back and show them we weren’t going to let them beat us and ride off into the sunset,” Springer said. “The kids were excited. They all realize it was a team effort.”
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Tecumseh senior Mitchell Foland secured his spot as the top high school tennis player in Clark County with a repeat at No. 1 singles. Foland beat Northwestern’s Yeager 8-2 in a match that at one point was tied 2-2.
Foland struggled with the wind early, but adjusted and rattled off six straight games. With the wind at his back on match point, his hard cross court forehand picked up even more speed with that gusty wind to zip right past Yeager.
“It was pretty important to me. I wanted to come in and show that I deserved it,” said Foland, who entered Friday’s tournament 7-0 overall and won three more abbreviated, pro-set matches (first player to eight points) Friday. “I’m not cocky but I know everybody is gunning for me.”
As for Yeager, the No. 2 seed, he was shooting for a top-four finish after coming in seventh last season.
“Obviously finishing second is huge,” Yeager said. “It’s always fun to play him because he’s one of the top players in the county. He’s a phenomenal player so it’s a privilege to play him.”
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Fourth-seeded Gabe King of Northeastern upset the top two seeds to win the No. 2 singles championship. He beat top-seeded Drew Sarihan of Tecumseh 9-7 in the semifinals and No. 2 Ethan Cundiff of Springfield 8-4 to win the title.
In doubles action, top-seeded Jack Brougher and Colin Kelly of Catholic Central didn’t drop a game in three matches and capped the No. 1 doubles championship with an 8-0 win against Northwestern’s No. 3-seeded team of Wildofsky and Smyczek. Catholic Central teammates and No. 2 seed Jacob Woeber and John Kavanaugh went overtime to beat Northwestern’s No. 1 seed of Glass and Macy 9-7.
The meet was originally scheduled for April 7 but was rescheduled because of low temperatures. On Friday temps were in the low 70s, but the wind provided another weather concern.
“It was tough to play in. (Playing into the wind) I don’t have as much power and (playing with the wind) I have to hit almost perfect shots,” Foland said. “It was just a mental thing in the beginning with the wind. I was like, ‘Just hit your shots.’ And I started playing.”
“To be honest, he’s been dealing with pressure since his freshman year,” Tecumseh coach Sean Bragg said. “He’s to the point now he’s so focused he’s more calm than I am.”
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