By DAVE HANNEMAN
The elite names on the bracket sheet won’t be the most intimidating thing facing Reid Teatsorth this week.
But the surroundings might raise a goose bump or two.
“Playing at Ohio State University and knowing there are (college) coaches watching, that might be a little (intimidating),” Teatsorth said.
“But I think I’ve matured enough and I’ve played enough of these kids before. There are 16 guys down there, and I’ve probably played five to ten of them in tournaments outside of high school.
“It’s going to be sort of familiar territory. But I also know I have to perform well because not too many players get to state who are not good players.”
Teatsorth, a junior, added his name to the list of Findlay High state tennis qualifiers by finishing second in Saturday’s Division I district final at Bowling Green State University.
Kyle Collette ended a 17-year Findlay High School drought by making it to state in 2007. Chikara Oshima followed two years later, and now Teatsorth continues the legacy.
“From my freshman year he (FHS coach Sean Swisher) really emphasized that this was our goal,” Teatsorth said. “It’s what we’ve been trying to get every year, and now we’re successful.”
Swisher isn’t surprised.
“From his freshman year to his sophomore year to now his level of play has gone up about two levels per season, and that’s through hard work and playing USA tournaments in the off season,” Swisher said.
“Obviously he’s matured. He’s bigger and stronger. But he’s also playing a smarter brand of tennis, not putting himself in bad spots on the court.”
“There’s a website that ranks tennis players anywhere from zero to four stars, five stars to blue chips. Ninety percent of the kids you’re going to see at the state tournament are a minimum of four stars. A lot are five stars and some are blue chips, and Reid is slowly becoming one of those elite players.
Teatsorth may be a newcomer to the state tennis tournament. But with Toledo St. John’s qualifying two doubles team for state and Teatsorth and Toledo Central Catholic’s Dugan Delp advancing in singles, Swisher feels a competitive league and regular season schedule has prepared his No. 1 player to be a factor in Columbus.
“The TRAC (Three Rivers Athletic Conference) really gears us up for the district tournament,” Swisher said.
“The biggest thing Reid needs to realize is that he belongs (at state) and that the moment isn’t too big for him. Two years ago, some of those names down there were maybe a couple of levels above him. I think now his level of play if very compatible to what he’s going to see at state. It’s just a matter of being relaxed in his surroundings and knowing this has been a life-long goal of his.”
The strength of Teatsorth’s game is, well, strength.
“I love my forehand. I love my serve. But I think the big thing about me is that I’m in good shape. I like to wear my opponent down,” Teatsorth said.
Teatsorth will face Upper Arlington’s Jeffrey Melvin on Friday in his first match of the Division I state singles tournament. Melvin was half of Upper Arlington’s team that won a state doubles championship last year.
“Melvin was Upper Arlington’s No. 2 (singles) player,’ Swisher said. “He played (Toledo) St. John’s No. 2 guy, Adam Zychowicz, and beat him 7-5, 7-5. Reid has beaten St. John’s No. 1 guy twice this year, so I think if Reid settles in and plays his match, he will be very competitive.”
Teatsorth carries a 25-5 record into state tournament competition. Three of those losses have been to Delp, a three time TRAC Player of the Year for Toledo Central Catholic and a three-time state qualifier.
Delp beat Teatsorth in straight sets in two regular season matches, but needed three sets to beat him in the district final. Instead of being rivals, though, the two, who are on opposite sides of the state singles bracket, practiced in Toledo on Wednesday, each looking to hone their game for the state tournament.
“One of the things that’s helped me is I’ve played more matches against good players. It helps playing people better than you,” Teatsorth said.
“Northwest Ohio isn’t the most abundant place for really, really good state championship quality tennis players, so anytime you can practice with a player of that caliber you’re going to grow and get better, and you want to do that.”
Whatever the outcome, Teatsorth know it will be worth the journey.
“If I win the state final, it will be a learning experience,” he said. “I could lose in the first round, and that would be a learning experience, too.
“The state tournament is all about going there, giving it everything you have, and doing everything you’ve trained for. As long as I do that, I’ll be happy whatever happens.”
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