Sunday, May 27, 2001

Locals win two state tennis titles

Walnut Hill doubles team, CHCA's Zimmermann

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

        COLUMBUS — Cincinnati's entries in Saturday's high school state tennis tournament finals had plenty to play for.

        The Walnut Hills doubles team of Jonathan Khoury and Eric Thomas had a senior in his last high school match, a coach in what probably was his last high school match and a championship legacy that had gone unfulfilled for 45 years.

        Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy senior Jason Zimmermann was looking at his last chance to capture a title.

        Both entries got great mileage from the motivation. The Khoury-Thomas team, put together just for the Division I tournament, completed the run by beating Canfield's Chris Kuppler and Shalin Shah 6-3, 6-3, to win Walnut Hills' first state tennis title since 1956.

        Zimmermann, who's bound for Duke on a tennis scholarship, didn't lose a set at the Division II state level, including his 6-4, 6-0 win over Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic sophomore Jeremy Miller.

        Cincinnati schools had not produced singles and doubles championships in the same season, regardless of division, since 1971.

        Indian Hill's Compton brothers, junior Mike and freshman Brian, finished second in Division II doubles. They lost to Zack Fayne and Brian Steginsky of Columbus Wellington 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

        The Comptons' teammate, senior Ryan McCarthy, finished third in Division II singles. After losing to Miller 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, McCarthy beat Canton Central Catholic senior Carey Rubin 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

        Walnut Hills coach Chris Hemingway, a teaching pro who said he was “99 percent sure” this season would be his last with the Eagles as he seeks new challenges, said he reminded Khoury and Thomas that the school hadn't won a title in a while.

        “We wanted to win it for the school,” said Khoury, the duo's senior.

        Said Thomas, “Knowing that this would be our last chance to play under (Hemingway) really made us want to win.”

        Zimmermann wrapped up a 25-0 season by becoming only the third Cincinnati player to win a small-school singles title since programs were split into two divisions in 1971. He punctuated his performance by acing all four of his championship-game points.

        “I felt like I was in control the whole match,” said Zimmermann, who was 32-0 as a junior before losing to Rubin's brother, Mike, in last year's state semifinals. “I wasn't playing very well until the end of the second set. The last three games, I played like I normally do.”

        “He's been very coachable all year,”CHCA coach Lynn Nabors-McNally said. “The last game, I just told him to go for it.

        “He's matured a lot since last year,” she added. “Last year, he beat himself. This year, his maturity level has gone up so much, he's like a different person. It's like night and day.”

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