COLUMBUS — Cloverleaf junior Jacob Dunbar used an impressive array of strokes and patience Friday to capture a berth in this morning’s Division I state semifinals at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center.
Dunbar will face Gahanna Lincoln senior Canyon Teague, who disposed of Willoughby South’s Vince Anzalone 4–6, 6–2, 6–1. The winner advances to battle Walsh Jesuit’s Aaron Sandberg — Dunbar defeated Sandberg for the Oberlin District title — or Upper Arlington’s Stuart Little.
Dunbar crushed New Albany’s Rathnakishore Giri 6-0, 6-1 in a lopsided opening-round match that lasted less than 35 minutes. Dunbar used an effective arsenal of first-service winners and top-spin passing shots to frustrate his opponent.
The two-time Gazette MVP’s quarterfinal against Mason High School’s Luke Tsai, last year’s state champion at doubles, was not as easy. Not only did Dunbar have to battle an experienced opponent, he also fought through a 45-minute rain delay and wind gusts in excess of 30 mph.
Dunbar fell behind early in both sets, but managed to rebound en route to a 6-3, 7–5 victory.
“Any time you have wind like you had today, your passing shots are almost non-existent,” Dunbar said. “You have to be so precise with every shot, so you end up being overly cautious. I was just happy to get through this match. He was a great player.”
The lanky and athletic Dunbar and Tsai, a shorter yet lightning-quick player, used all of their athletic skills in the wildly entertaining match.
Dunbar had to reach deep into his creative repertoire to keep Tsai off-balance. With gusting winds, it was nearly impossible for either player to take advantage of their big serves. In fact, the only ace was an underspin serve that Tsai couldn’t get to. It was followed quickly by a cordial apology from Dunbar for having to pull out that shot from his quiver.
The match was a slugfest, as the players matched point for point. It turned in Dunbar’s favor when he was down a break in the second set and decided to attack the net.
“Anytime you’re in the wind, getting to the net is a good thing,” he said.
In a critical juncture, Dunbar and Tsai exchanged rapid-fire volleys at the net on consecutive points. Dunbar won both points to break Tsai’s serve, and followed with a four-point service game in which he scored all of the points at the net.
The Cloverleaf star essentially beat Tsai at his own game.
“I am just so proud of Jacob for continuing to fight when he was down,” beaming Cloverleaf coach Mike McGee said. “He did the same thing at districts — getting down early then fighting back.”
Contact Richard Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.