Kevin Brown, left, and Ryan Brown of St. John’s Jesuit lost in the doubles championship match of the Division I state tennis tournament Saturday in Columbus. SPECIAL TO BLADE/PHIL LONG
COLUMBUS — On the way to a fourth-place finish in doubles at the Division I state tennis tournament a year ago, the St. John’s Jesuit team of brothers Ryan and Kevin Brown won two three-set matches and lost another.
Their propensity for being able to handle long battles paid off at this year’s state tournament Saturday at Ohio State as they left as runners-up.
Ryan, a senior, and Kevin, a junior, won two three-set matches to help them reach the final but lost to the Cincinnati Sycamore’s Nakul Narendran and Mustafa Ahmad 6-3, 6-3 for the title.
“I’m just so happy for Kevin and Ryan,” coach Jim Davis said. “They lost a heartbreaker in a semifinal last year and wanted to [improve on that finish], and they’re brothers, too. They just never quit.”
The Browns, who won their first-round match 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7) on Friday, edged Mason’s Nadim Boulos and Sean Reid 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a semifinal Saturday.
“We never lost confidence,” Kevin Brown said. “We had a game plan [against Mason] and just stuck to it.”
Added Ryan Brown: “Our energy and our fitness helps us really keep going. Our energy was still pretty high [against Mason] because we’ve been in so many of these three-set matches.”
St. John’s will play Upper Arlington in a semifinal of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state team tournament today at Reynoldsburg. Massillon Jackson plays Sycamore in the other semifinal.
Jonah Carter and Rajeev Laungani, who lost in the first round in doubles to Narendran and Ahmad on Friday, also will be among those expected to compete for the Titans in the team tournament.
Also competing on the second day of the state tournament was Central Catholic senior Dugan Delp, who finished fourth in Division I singles.
Delp lost to Springboro’s Zach Berry 6-0, 7-5 in a semifinal and took Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit’s Aaron Sandberg to three sets before losing 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the consolation.
While Delp had lost in the first round each of the last two seasons, Sandberg was third in 2012 and second a year ago.
Delp was up 5-2 in the second set before Berry rallied in the semifinal.
Berry lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius’ Nathan Griffin 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 for the championship.
“I had to try to work to get points [against Berry],” Delp said. “He cut down on his errors and starting earning every point and just picked up his game.
“It was a good change this year. It was very enjoyable and fun, and some more of my friends and family got to come down today and watch me. It was a really fun experience overall.”