Northwestern senior Reilly Smith won three matches at the Division II sectional tournament on Tuesday to qualify for next week’s district tournament. Greg Billing / Contributed

Northwestern’s Smith leads trio into district tournament

Northwestern’s season of success continued Tuesday afternoon at the Division II sectional tennis tournament at Troy’s Community Park. Smith won three matches to qualify for Saturday’s semifinals, which guarantees him a spot in next week’s district tournament.

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It’s another accomplishment for the Warriors and coach Colin Imwalle. Earlier this season Northwestern repeated as Clark County champions and recently won the Central Buckeye Conference title for the first time since 1998.

Smith and Fuschino came out for the team late into their sophomore year and played junior varsity. They’ve spent the last two seasons on varsity, including this season with Smith holding the No. 1 singles position and Fuschino at No. 2.

“Him and Corbin, they both decided to join tennis at the same time,” Imwalle said. “They’ve been varsity the last two years as some of our best players.”

Smith decided to try tennis after watching his sister Madison, a 2018 graduate, play for the Warriors. As a junior he came a victory away from qualifying for the district tournament. On Tuesday he broke through.

“It feels pretty good. There’s a little pressure off me,” Smith said. “Doing better than last year feels good.”

Smith returns Saturday for the semifinals and finals to determine the all-important seeding for the district. A sectional championship means facing a No. 4 seed from another sectional and hopefully a better bracket draw. But just reaching the district tournament is reason for celebration.

The Springfield area qualified three D-II players to the district tournament with Smith, Greenon senior Andrew Conover and Yellow Springs senior Forrest Rowe. Smith, seeded No. 3, faces No. 2 Conover in the semifinals. No. 4 Rowe takes on top-seeded senior Josh Brown of Northridge.

“I’d love to get two wins. That would be pretty good,” Smith said of the chance to capture a sectional title. “I just kind of go out there and wing it and hope I win.”

“We’re really happy he made it to districts,” Imwalle said. “We’re optimistic about Saturday. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens. We want to do well (at districts) but we’re just happy to qualify.”

Smith beat Urbana junior Ethan Headlee 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals to qualify for district. Conover beat Greenville freshman Jack Marchal 6-1, 6-4. Rowe topped Tippecanoe junior Blake Moran 6-2, 6-0.

“He’s a very consistent player,” Imwalle said of Smith. “He’s kind of overachieved his whole career it seems like.”

Northwestern plays London today for a chance at an undefeated team season. The Warriors enter the match 17-0 overall and 11-0 in the Central Buckeye Conference.

In addition to Smith and Fuschino, the Warriors also received key contributions from Luke Macy at No. 3 singles, Camron Smyczek and Nathan Wildofsky at No. 1 doubles and Chris and Matt Hart at No. 2 doubles.

“Everybody did well for us this year,” Imwalle said.

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