Solon Comets’ junior Nikolas Romanov’s encore continues to be a hit.
The Solon junior’s postseason run in the Division I tennis tournament continued when he took second place in the Division I singles bracket last Thursday at Solon Community Park to earn a district berth.
Freshman Zach Krantz and senior Eric Liao also qualified for the district tournament when they finished as runners-up in the doubles bracket.
“It’s fantastic,” said Solon Coach Fredrik Nyborg. “Solon is delighted to have two teams. That also happened last year as well so we’re keeping up the trend here.”
It marks the second consecutive season the Comets advanced a doubles team to Akron.
According to Nyborg, the Comets struggled to advance doubles teams to the district level in previous years. Achieving that goal in back-to-back seasons means doubles at Solon are growing stronger.
Romanov didn’t drop a game on his first day of competition, sweeping both Howland’s Jack Loges and Luke Klahoz from Warren G. Harding 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Solon junior overpowered Kenston senior Casey Richter 6-0, 6-1 to earn a spot in the semifinals on the second day.
He lost 5-7 to Shaker Heights’ Ben Jamal in the first set but rallied to win the second set 6-4.
Romanov capped off his comeback by winning the third set 6-3 to earn a spot in the finals.
“Nikko is well-trained,” the four-year coach noted. “He trains hard throughout the day. He enjoys training, running, weight lifting and stuff like that. He’s a person that will always try and get better outside of tennis off the court so I think that helps him condition-wise.”
Romanov’s finals against Warren G. Harding’s Anthony Payiavlas ended early when he retired in the second set due to injury.
Krantz and Liao dazzled in the doubles bracket.
Nyborg said he originally planned to have Krantz play doubles at the beginning of the season but his partner was injured so he inserted the freshman in singles.
Liao was a district qualifier in doubles last year when he competed alongside senior Scott Zhao.
Nyborg decided it would be a good match to pair Krantz and Liao in doubles.
“I think they compliment each other well,” Nyborg explained. “Zach is very crafty, he understands the court very well and Eric is a little bit more aggressive. Zach is a lefty and Eric is a righty so that also helps when you’re serving because sometimes if the sun is on the opposite side, the lefty will probably play on that side and the righty probably plays on the other side.”
The Solon duo swept the first day of competition to advance to the quarterfinals by besting Andrew McKee and Sergio Lozano from Lakeside 6-0, 6-0 then swept Madison’s Brandon Fisher and Armaan Chima 6-0, 6-0.
Krantz and Liao secured a spot in the semifinals after surviving a three-setter against Kenston seniors Mac McNeal and Nick Beebe.
The Solon duo dropped the first set 5-7 after having their streak broken but battled back to win the second set 7-5 by breaking a Bombers’ serve.
Krantz and Liao overpowered the Kenston duo 6-1 in the third set to advance to the semifinals.
They played another three-setter against University School’s sophomore Cole Kirchik and junior Rohan Sethi, losing the first set 5-7 but wining the second set 7-5.
After falling behind 0-3 in the final set, Krantz and Liao rallied to win 6-3 and advance to the finals.
The Solon duo’s run ended when they lost to 3-6, 1-6 to Preppers’ senior Nathan Mu and sophomore Dean Kirchick.
“We had too many unforced errors and made some wrong decisions on certain shots so we were not at the top of our game,” noted Nyborg.
University School’s Dean Kirchik and Mu take doubles title
It was déjà vu for Mu when he once again repeated as a Division I sectionals doubles champion. This year he had a different partner in Dean Kirchick to win the doubles title.
The Preppers advanced five players to the district level with their other doubles team qualifying and freshman Vishwum Kapadia finishing in fourth place in the singles bracket.
“We’ve got a bunch of good sophomores and freshman so in two years when these guys are upperclassmen they’re going to be really good,” said University School Coach Adam Atwell. “It’s important for the young guys to get experience and we want to be in the districts and states every year just so guys get a taste for it.”
Mu was a state qualifier last year with then-senior Spencer Krantz in doubles and the Kirchick brothers also advanced to Cincinnati in doubles.
Following Krantz’s graduation, Atwell decided to pair the Preppers’ senior with Dean in the sectional tournament.
“Dean was our number one singles player all year so it was a tough decision whether to have him play singles or doubles,” the five-year coach explained. “After we talked a bunch the idea of him and Nathan together as our two strongest doubles players as a team is what we went with and just hoped they could make a run.”
Mu and Dean cruised to the semifinals by sweeping their first three matches.
They clinched a spot in the finals after beating Shaker Heights’ Adam Hollander and Johnny Frothingham 6-0, 6-3.
Cole and Sethi had a dominant run to the semifinals by sweeping their first two matches 6-0, 6-0 then defeated Noah Rusnak and William Cronin from Shaker Heights 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
The Preppers’ tandem’s bid for the doubles title ended when they lost to Solon’s Krantz and Liao in the semifinals but finished in third place after defeating Hollander and Frothingham 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the consolation match.
Kapadia’s bid for a district berth commenced when he swept Aurora’s Jonah Shanholtzer 6-0, 6-0 in the second round then overpowered Alexander Bakeris from Howland 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.
He secured a spot in the district tournament when Solon senior Scott Zhao forfeited but fell into the consolation bracket after getting swept 6-0, 6-0 by Payiavlas.
Kapadia finished in fourth place after losing 6-1, 6-2 to Shaker Heights’ Jamal.
The road to the state tournament continues when the Division I districts begin on May 19 at the Springside Racquet Club in Akron at 9 a.m.