SMCC's Linden marches to SBC boys singles title
May 5, 2015 at 1:16 PM
After placing second in the league tournament a year ago, Andrew Linden set his sights on the Sandusky Bay Conference championship this spring.
The junor won it Saturday afternoon at Baywinds, beating Oak Harbor senior Greg LaFountain 6-1, 6-0 for his singles title.
"I felt like I was on. I wasn't missing much at all, and I thought I played really well," Linden said after claiming his singles plaque, and another as the league's outstanding performer.
Linden, a state qualifier a year ago, is the first singles champion for the Panthers since Austin Opfer did it in 2007.
"My goal this year was to win it. I wanted to try and do better than last year," Linden said.
He was the SBC runner-up a year ago, dropping a 6-0, 6-3 match to Blake Troller, a three-time champion from 2008-10, of Port Clinton in the finals.
This weekend, he won all four of his matches in straight sets and dropped a total of four games.
"Andrew played really well. It was a good win for Greg against Manickam (Mankickam). Every time out he gets better and better," Oak Harbor coach Rick LaFountain said. "But Andrew hit on all cylinders today. Greg's had a good season so far, and he's looking forward to the rest of the year.
"We'll get back outside where we belong."
Clyde's Blaine MacFarland and Itts Rodrungruang won the league's doubles championships by beating Huron's Matt Wray and John Dusza, 6-1, 6-4.
LaFountain, a senior who was third a year ago, had a 6-3, 7-6, 8-6 win on April 26 against Linden, who said he entered the finals without dwelling on that loss.
"I tried to think it was just like any other match, and wanted to get off to a good start," Linden said.
The pair split the first two games, but Linden broke LaFountain's service in the third game to take a 2-1 lead -- and the momentum.
"I felt (momentum) building in the game and in the shots as the match went on," Linden said.
LaFountain's first match Saturday was a 2-hour, 50-minute contest he won in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 against Manickam, a freshman at Perkins. LaFountain had an allotted 30-minute break before the finals.
"He was physically and mentally tired. It was a match that drained him more mentally than physically," Rick LaFountain said. "I think he was feeling the effects."
MacFarland and Rodrungruang, the tournament's No 1 seed, became the Fliers' first tournament champions since Danny Michaels and Tommy Stein won the doubles title in 2008.
MacFarland said the teamwork between he and Rodrungruang made the difference.
"Wray and Dusza played well. We'll probably see them again in sectionals," MacFarland said.
"It was mostly teamwork. We were talking more in this match than in previous matches," he said.
Here for the school year as an exchange student from Thailand, Rodrungruang said this meeting was different compared to the first with Wray and Dusza, the No. 2 seed in the doubles tournament. . The Clyde duo won that match in three sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, on April 28.
With the matches played indoor at Baywinds, Rodrungruang said the ball moved faster and allowed for harder returns.
"(Playing in Thailand) is different because the weather is much warmer there. It's pretty cold outside," he said.
The consolation matches also saw Manickam beat Port Clinton's Chalin Cahlik, 6-2, 6-1, in the third place match, and Evan Slattery of SMCC defeated Port Clinton's Mark Fillmore, 6-0, 6-3.
In the doubles consolation finals, SMCC's Jared Ebert and Alex Opfer beat Port Clinton's Jonny Newton and Jeff Griffin, 6-4, 6-3.
Saturday began with the singles and doubles semifinals; Linden won his in straight sets against Cahlik, 6-2, 6-1, and LaFountain had his three-set winner against Manickam.
MacFarland and Rodrungruang scored a 6-4, 6-3 win in their doubles semifinal against Newton and Griffin, and Dusza and Wray had a 7-5, 6-3 win against Ebert and Opfer.
Fillmore won his consolation semifinal match against Perkins' Gabe Murray, 7-4, 6-4, 6-3, and Slattery scored a 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 win against Zach Auxter of P.C. in his consolation match.