SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — When tennis practice started up in early spring, every player had a common goal in mind, make it to Columbus. That was the case for Shawnee’s Jason Barton and Tim Rutter.
The division II state tournament starts Friday morning and in order to advance to Saturday, teams will have to win both of their first two matches respectively. Barton and Rutter will square off against Gahanna Columbus Academy’s Evan Alexander and Dean Firouzian in their first match.
Barton, a senior, is making his third trip to state. Barton teamed up with Hunter Pay in 2011 as a freshman and returned to state last year as a junior, teaming up with Josh Thomas.
“I’m really excited because it wasn’t a walk in the park getting there (state),” Barton said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing doubles, which is why I chose to do doubles again this year instead of singles.”
Barton, who was Shawnee’s number one singles competitor for the regular season, knows that the state tournament is full of great players.
“I expected a lot of great competition, and that is exactly what I got,” Barton said. “I’m just really excited to go to the state tournament and see what we can do there.”
Rutter, a junior, will be making his first trip to the state tournament. Even though Rutter and Barton have only been playing together for a couple of weeks, he feels comfortable having him as a partner.
“It’s really exciting (going to state) because I’ve never been there before,” Rutter said. “He (Jason) is a really good player, and it’s been fun playing with him. We play really well together. He’s got a lot of singles strengths, and I’ve got a lot of doubles strengths.”
Shawnee coach Steve Jones has been impressed with the duo’s chemistry together.
“Jason is just like having another coach out on the court,” Jones said. “I can tell Timmy feels really comfortable with him out there and knows Jason will help him out.”
Rutter hopes that their strengths mesh well with each other Friday.
“I think we’re really good at the net along with serving and volleying,” Rutter said. “I like to be at the net a lot. For me, just being at the state tournament and seeing what I can take away from it heading into next year is great.”
Since Barton is a senior, he has a lot on his mind, but that doesn’t stop his determination to compete.
“It’s been pretty stressful because I come out here every day and work with Timmy for about two hours,” Barton said. “It’s also a struggle to keep up with the school work. We have finals this week. It’s been a lot of work but it’s also been a lot of fun.”
Others at state
Lima Central Catholic: Pierre Desprat will be making his first trip to state as he squares off against Asher Hirsch of Cincinnati Country Day. Desprat finished in second place to Mason Dragos of Lexington last week at the Bowling Green district.
Celina: The Bulldogs will be sending three players to the state tournament. Alex Seibel will take on Dhruv Yadav of Gates Mills Hawken in his first match. The doubles pair of Isaac Elston and Kris LeJune will compete against Tyler Krantz and Drew Krantz in their first match.