LIMA — Shawnee head coach Aaron Patterson admits he did not know what kind of team he had coming into the season and as it turned out he found that he had a Western Buckeye League champion after the Indians won the league tournament Saturday after already securing the regular season title.
Shawnee, which went 9-0 in league dual matches, took top honors in the tournament held at UNOH with 56 points. Ottawa-Glandorf was second with 42 followed by St. Marys with 36 points and Van Wert with 26.
In the final standings, Shawnee placed first overall with Ottawa-Glandorf second and St. Marys took third. Bath was fourth followed by Van Wert in fifth.
“We have 18 on our roster and our practices are very competitive even with three seniors and no juniors and 10 or 11 freshmen,” Patterson said. “We didn’t know what we had. We thought we were going to be competitive and then the way the season played out was great.”
Patterson added after not being able to play last season he was happy to see this team garner top honors.
“We were just happy to play and with COVID you never know and it could end at any time but these kids worked really hard. There is a handful that are dedicated to tennis and spend a lot of time in the offseason even after our practices by going to Westwood. We thought we had something special but you didn’t know what everyone else had. They have gotten progressively better as the season has gone along and we are playing our best tennis.”
The Indians swept the singles divisions and took second in first and second doubles.
At No. 1 singles came perhaps the most impressive outing when Shawnee freshman Gabe Burke took top honors. Burke defeated St. Marys’ Joey Vanderhorst in the finals, 6-1, 6-3 to secure first place.
Burke took a simple approach to winning his bracket.
“I just wanted to get the ball back over and be consistent,” Burke said. “Most players have a hard time with playing consistently so I wanted to hit the ball back over and let them make the mistakes and minimize my unforced errors.”
Shawnee sophomore Mason Stahl downed Ottawa-Glandorf’s Colin Welch in the second singles championship match, 6-0, 6-1.
Completing Shawnee’s sweep in singles play was sophomore Mac Davis who beat Ottawa-Glandorf’s Eli Schmenk in the third singles finals, 6-3, 6-2.
“All three guys spend a lot of time at Westwood,” Patterson said. “They play in a lot of USGA tournaments, and they are pretty confident in their abilities but they are very coachable and when we ask them to try some things in the season they tried and I think they have gotten better as the season has gone on and its nice to know that they will be coming back. Even though they are young, they are leaders by their play, maybe not with words. A lot of our guys look up to them and they like to help other kids in practice, and I could not be more proud.
Shawnee’s doubles team made the finals but were beaten in close matches.
At No. 1 doubles, the Defiance duo of Ryan Yeager and Andrew Frederick won in three sets, 4-6, 6-3 and 6-3, over the Shawnee pair of Brayden Ward and Niel Ok.
St. Marys picked up the No. 2 doubles title as the Roughrider duo of Connor Milner and Isaac Wibbeler outlasted the Shawnee team of Adam Stump and Seth Greishop, 6-4, 6-7 (10-8), 7-5.
“It stinks to lose those two and they were very competitive matches,” Patterson said. “ Defiance beat us during the regular season in first doubles so to go three sets was good and in second doubles they have been competitive all year but we came up short. I can’t fault the kids. It has been a long, short season. The spring season is very dense with a lot of play in a short of amount of days and I can’t just say how hard our kids compete.”
This marks Shawnee’s 26th WBL title, 22nd outright and first one since 2018.
“Shawnee has a strong tradition in tennis and we have to keep building on that tradition,” Patterson said. “Getting one here with a younger team is pretty special. There is a long line of great tennis players that have come through Shawnee and we are proud to continue that tradition.”
The Sportsmanship Award went to Celina’s Logan Goettemoeller.