Milton-Union doubles team advances to district tournament

TROY — First-year Milton-Union boys tennis coach Kevin Brackman had a good feeling when he paired up Tyler Kress and Cooper Brown — the Bulldogs first and second singles player during the season — as doubles partners at the D-II sectional tournament Tuesday at Troy High School and Troy City Park.

And they proved him correct.

The two sophomores won three straight matches to advance to the district tournament next week at the Linder Tennis Center at Kings Island.

“They have been good friends since they were young,” Brackman said. “They play basketball together. They really get along well and this was a chance for them to play together.”

They opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Kenton Ridge, followed it with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Northeastern and faced Lehman’s Max Schmiesing and Brandon Jones in the go-to district match.

They took control from the start, winning 6-2, 6-2.

“I really think the key to it was that they gelled from the start,” Brackman said. “They did that in their first match and I thought that was really important. Tyler (Kress) and Cooper (Brown) both had great communication all day. They really played well.”

They advance to Saturday’s semifinals, which will determine seeding for district.

They are one of two unseeded doubles teams to advance and face the top seed from Yellow Springs in the semifinals.

“They have nothing to lose,” Brackman said. “They are a really good doubles team. They are both sophomores and with not getting to play last year (because of Covid-19) I think that is pretty good to make it to district.”

Milton-Union’s other doubles team of Zeb Hines and Joel Benkert defeated Yellow Springs 6-3, 6-0; before losing to Urbana 6-, 6-2.

In singles, Carter Berner picked up a 6-1, 6-0 win over Brookville’s Nic Byrne before losing to fourth seed Henry Kochensparger of Eaton 6-0, 6-0.

Tommy Ryerson lost to Greenon’s Nathan Hawks and Mason Gooslin lost 6-1, 6-3 to Kenton Ridge’s Landon Bowling.

“Considering we started the season with no returners with any varsity experience, I thought we had a good season,” Brackman said. “It was a little rough at the start and the kids just continued to improve. We had a freshman (Carter Berner) win a match at singles, which is great experience for him.”

Lehman Catholic ran into buzzsaws in all three of its go-to district matches and saw its season come to an end.

“We exceeded expectations,” Lehman coach Tim Ungericht said. “We were 7-7 and we were a young team. We only lose one senior (Max Schmiesing). We played well today. We had both doubles teams and Sam Gilardi make it to the go-to district match. And we are going to finish ninth in the Miami Valley D-II final ranklings.”

Chris Evans and Joe Pannaparra were the third seeds in doubles.

After outlasting Northridge 7-5, 2-6, 6-2; Lehman lost to Northwestern 6-1, 6-1. Northwestern had advanced with a bye and a default.

“They played a great match,” Ungericht said. “They never let us get into the match. They (Northwestern) definitely should have been seeded.”

Schmiesing and Jones were unseeded.

Before losing to Milton-Union, they defeated Eaton 6-2, 6-3 and the fourth seed from Brookville 6-0, 6-0.

“They played well,” Ungericht said. “Milton-Union just played really well.”

In singles, third seed Sam Gilardi defeated Kendale Hamilton of Eaton 6-3, 6-4 before losing to Henry Smith-Heston of Yellow Springs 6-1, 6-2; Brock Bostic lost to Noah Lambert 6-2, 6-0 and Logan Linson lost to Ryan Harrington of Northwestern 6-1, 6-3.

“I had heard the Yellow Springs kid (that beat Sam Gilardi) was a good player,” Ungericht said. “He probably should have been seeded. But, we had five guys that were one match from district.”

The D-II semifinals will get underway at 9 a.m. Saturday, with the first and third-place matches to follow.