By John Bombatch
XENIA — On Senior Night, host Xenia earned a pair of singles wins and one doubles win to earn a hard-fought 3-2 win over Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division rival Fairborn, Tuesday, on the Greene County Fairgrounds tennis courts.
With the win, Xenia clinched third place in the GWOC South. It’s the first time that the Buccaneers had finished higher than fifth since the GWOC South expanded to six teams in 2011. Xenia had finished in a three-way tie for second in the five-team division in 2010, and they finished all alone in second in 2009.
“I think we played really well today. The kids’ fundamentals are really coming along now, and the weather’s getting nice to where we’ve been able to come out and really practice hard. And a big win over Miamisburg last night (4-1) really helped our confidence coming in to this match,” Xenia coach Steve Cukovecki said.
Fairborn’s number one singles player, Nhat Mai, claimed a 6-2, 6-2 win over Xenia senior Jason Jones to start the day. Mai took advantage of Jones’ soft second serve, often receiving service inside the service box, to keep his Buccaneer counterpart on the defensive.
Xenia’s Dorien Morris evened the overall team score with a quick 6-0, 6-1 win at third singles over Fairborn freshman Caleb Arthur.
Buc senior Connor Sell then gave Xenia the edge in singles matches with a tough 6-2, 6-1 win over the Skyhawks’ Alex Cao at second singles.
Jones and Sell are the only seniors on the Buccaneers team. The rest of Tuesday’s Xenia lineup was composed of juniors.
The Xenia first doubles tandem of Chris Brodsky and Michael Graham clinched the team win with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Fairborn’s Tyler Fillback-Robert Floyd tandem.
And in the best match of the day, Fairborn’s senior duo of Johnny Ngo and Austin Lewis dominated play in the crucial third-set tiebreaker to claim a 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (1) win over Xenia’s Spencer Titus and Chris Koehler.
Titus and Koehler fought off a match point while down 3-5 in that third set before battling back to send things into a tiebreaker. Xenia scored the first tiebreaker point on a Koehler forehand winner, but solid net play by Fairborn’s Lewis helped earn the pair a 7-1 tiebreak win.
“Neither one of the teams could get the momentum going their way for very long. It seemed like one team was about to run away with it, but then the other guys would battle back to even it up again. That was a good match,” Fairborn coach Doug Coy said. “I liked how both teams played hard and yet maintained good sportsmanship the whole time as well.”
“It was pretty intense with those guys,” Cukovecki said. He was called to be a line judge in the crucial third set. “It was a very close match, and it was fun for me to watch.”
The team match was Fairborn’s last of the regular season. They finished winless at 0-18, 0-5 GWOC South.
Xenia (5-7, 3-2 GWOC South) still has three rained out matches to try and make up.
They are scheduled to play a nonleague match a Urbana today, then both themselves and Fairborn will participate in the GWOC tournament in Troy on Thursday. The Bucs will host Riverside Stebbins on the Fairgrounds courts on Monday before wrapping their regular season matches up with an 11 a.m. Saturday May 14 match with Carroll.