BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — In the 2021 district tennis tournament, Maumee coach Teddy Morse thinks his doubles duo of Braden Tucker and Gavin Yu were just happy to be there and soak in the moment.
There was none of that awe or simplicity when they returned to the district bracket this year – and it showed.
Tucker and Yu finished third in the Division II district tournament last week at Port Clinton, giving them a berth in this week’s state tournament in the Cincinnati area.
“They were much more confident going in this year,” Morse said. “They expected to win this year. Last year, they won a match and thought, ‘Oh (shoot), we could go to states.’”
Yu and Tucker opened the tournament last Thursday with a pair of wins that effectively punched their tickets for state.
They beat the freshman duo of Jaden Neuman and Ben Osmon of Elida, 6-2, 6-1, in the first round. Tucker and Yu then took out Galion’s Matthew Gimbel and Jamison Hollis, 6-1, 6-1, in the quarterfinals.
“I looked at our draw and said, ‘If we play like we’re capable of playing, not play nervous or tight … that they would take care of business,’” Morse said. “I don’t know that they played great tennis (on Thursday), but they won pretty easily.”
Saturday’s first match was against Lexington’s Tommy Secrist and Karl Etzel, with the Panthers losing, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1. Secrist and Etzel went on to claim the district title.
The loss dropped Yu and Tucker into the third-place match against the team of Eli Schmenk and Joshua Walls from Ottawa-Glandorf. The Panthers duo won, 6-3, 6-1, giving them a better seeding for the state tournament.
“It’s a life-long dream to go to states,” Morse said. “Not everybody can say (that they’ve been there). As a head coach, this is my first team to go down there, so I’m pretty excited. It’s an honor to be there.”
Tucker and Yu will open the state tournament at 9:00 a.m. on Friday against Austin Flamm and Stefan Schiff of Bexley, the top seed from the Central District.
The state tournament is held on Friday and Saturday at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. Tickets are $15.00 and are being sold exclusively through the OHSAA online partner, HomeTown Ticketing.