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High School Tennis: Westlake freshman Buffington falls to familiar foe, still gets third place, trip to state

ROCKY RIVER - Colton Buffington had beaten Tommy Marx the last time they played.  That was in a USTA match.

But Saturday in the Division I district semifinal at Tri-City Park, it was all Marx.

The Shaker Heights sophomore, who finished third at the 2008 state championships, played a near flawless match to defeat Westlake`s freshman sensation, 6-4, 6-2.

Buffington will go to this year`s state tournament as a third-place finisher. He rebounded from the loss in the morning to beat Robert Salcedo of Boardman, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.

"Colton played well," Westlake coach Jeff Mannies said. "It just was not enough against Tommy. Is he (Marx) a better player? Today, I`d say ‘yes.`"

Marx broke Buffington`s serve early in the first set and held a 1-2 game lead for the rest of the way. He dominated the freshman in the second set.

"Tommy made a lot (fewer) errors early in the match," Buffington said. "It became me playing Tommy`s game. I couldn`t keep up with that kind of consistency."

Mannies agreed that consistency was the key to Marx`s success.

"Tom got everything over and everything deep," Mannies said. "He kept Colton back the whole time. His consistency won the match."

"We`ve played each other a couple of times," Buffington said.

"He has beaten me and I`ve beaten him. He`s a great player and today was his day."

Buffington will get another shot at Marx on Tuesday when Westlake and Shaker Heights play a team tournament match at Shaker Heights.

Against Salcedo, Buffington survived a see-saw contest in the first set before cruising to victory in the next one.

"It was a little of both," Buffington said, when asked if he played better in the second set or if his opponent wasn`t as effective.

"I cut down on unforced errors."

The loss was the second of the season for Buffington. He had previously been defeated by Nolan Marks of Kenston, whom he beat Thursday in a district quarterfinal match at Oberlin College.

Marx failed to repeat as district champion. Junior Ethan Dunbar of Cloverleaf defeated Marx, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).

Shaker Heights won the doubles championship as David Gabriel and Nick Howe beat Matt Sloan and Louie Thomas of Massillon Jackson, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The third-place match in doubles was between two teams from Walsh Jesuit, as Garrett Cona and Matt Spittler defeated Noah Hobrath and Chris Mazak, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5.

OTCA Tournament

Westlake advanced to the semifinals of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Tournament with a 3-2 win over Brecksville on Friday. The Demons will play Shaker Heights on a day this week to be determined.

Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

DIVISION I DISTRICT

Semifinals

SINGLES: Ethan Dunbar (Cloverleaf) def. Robert Salcedo (Boardman), 6-0, 6-3; Tommy Marx (Shaker Heights) def. Colton Buffington (Westlake), 6-4, 6-2.

DOUBLES: Matt Sloan and Louie Thomas (Massillon Jackson) def. Garret Cona and Matt Spittler (Walsh Jesuit), 6-4, 7-5; David Gabriel and Nick Howe (Shaker Heights) def. Noah Hobrath and Chris Mazak (Walsh Jesuit), 6-4, 7-5.

Championships

SINGLES: Ethan Dunbar (Cloverleaf)( def. Tommy Marx (Shaker Heights), 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).

DOUBLES: David Gabriel and Nick Howe (Shaker Heights) def. Matt Sloan and Louie Thomas (Massillon Jackson), 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Third place

SINGLES: Colton Buffington (Westlake) def. Robert Salcedo (Boardman), 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.

DOUBLES: Garrett Cona and Matt Spittler (Walsh Jesuit) def. Noah Hobrath and Chris Mazak (Walsh Jesuit), 7-5, 1-6, 7-5.

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