ROCKY RIVER — After a rocky start, Vermilion senior Chaz Hansen settled down and lived up to his No. 1 seeding with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Lake Ridge junior Caleb Mayer in the Division II sectional singles final Saturday at Tri-City Park.
“He was playing very well at the beginning,” Hansen said of Mayer. “My strategy was to wear him out. It was a hot day. I felt good, but he whipped me pretty bad the first set. They were long points and I was moving him around.
“I had better consistency and placement the second set. I pretty much stuck with the game plan I had from the beginning. It just started working.”
Both three-time district qualifiers, Hansen defeated Mayer in another three-set match — 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 — during the regular season.
Hansen beat Mayer in the semifinals last year, while Mayer beat Hansen in the semis in 2011.
“Chaz really stepped up his game in the second set,” said Mayer, the No. 3 seed. “I came out very aggressive but then started playing more defensive-oriented. That really hurt and it caught up to me.”
Hansen was down 0-1 in the second set before he finally got on a roll and won seven out of the next eight points to grab a 2-0 lead in the third set.
Mayer broke Hansen’s serve in the seventh and ninth games in the third set, but couldn’t pull out the win. The LRA junior’s win in the ninth game pulled the Royal to within one at 5-4.
“He’s a player that gets everything in. He has great placement, good serve,” said Hansen. “This win means a lot. Seeding is huge (for districts).”
Hansen jumped on Mayer 40-0 in the 10th game before Mayer answered with two points to cut it to 40-30. Mayer double-faulted on match oint to seal Hansen’s win.
“Caleb had Chaz on the ropes,” Royals coach Rich Robbins said. “I’m not sure what happened. He just needed to keep the pressure on him, but he let him back in the match.”
“Caleb is a baseliner through and through,” Vermilion coach Joe Tellier said. “He has nice groundstrokes, so getting him off the baseline was the key to Chaz’s match.”
Royals junior Roger Peckham also advanced to districts, finishing fourth after losing to Rocky River’s Henry Grierson, 6-1, 6-2.
Vermilion got a huge performance from its unseeded doubles team of senior Kevin Cole and sophomore Shane Spence. The pair finished second after losing 6-0, 6-2 in the championship match to the No. 3-seeded team of senior Spencer Knowles and sophomore Bowe Andrews from CVCA.
Cole and Spence advanced to the title match by upsetting the top-seeded Bay team of seniors Dan Hippler and Zach Messina, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, in a match that last nearly two hours.
“It feels great,” Spence said. “We did a lot better than we expected.”
Spence played third singles and Cole first doubles during the regular season. They played a couple of doubles matches at the end of the season to tune up for sectionals.
“We got a winnable draw at sectionals and now we’re here,” Cole said. “Bay started getting a little tired (in the semis) and we started figuring them out. We continued to stay focused and didn’t get down on ourselves. Since no one gave us a shot there was no real pressure on us. We just smiled the entire way and tried to enjoy with what we were dealt.”
Qualifiers from the Rocky River sectional advance to the Division II district Friday and Saturday at Canton’s Harvard Park.
“We’re thrilled,” Tellier said. “We knew Chaz was going to do well. Our goal was to get another team down to districts if we could. Just to make it into the championship round (for doubles) is awesome.”
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
FINAL: Chaz Hansen (Vermilion) def. Caleb Mayer (Lake Ridge), 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. Third place: Henry Grierson (Rocky River) def. Roger Peckham (Lake Ridge), 6-1, 6-2
Semifinals: Hansen def. Peckham, 6-0, 6-1; Mayer def. Grierson, 6-0, 6-1
FINAL: Spencer Knowles-Bowe Andrews (CVCA) def. Kevin Cole-Shane Spencer (Vermilion), 6-0, 6-2. Third place: Dan Hippler-Zach Messina (Bay) def. Ryan McDermott-Mike Ittu (Rocky River), 6-2, 7-5
Semifinals: Knowles-Andrews def. McDermott-Ittu, 6-1, 6-0; Cole-Spencer def. Hippler-Messina 1-6, 7-5, 6-2