After going undefeated through the regular season (4-0) and sectionals (4-0) as a doubles team, Lakeview's Zach McDivitt and Aaron Paczak only went 2-2 at the Division II district tennis tournament, but that was good enough to earn the duo a No. 4 seed in the state tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday (9 a.m. both days) at The Ohio State University courts.
Their quest for a state championship begins with a match against Alex Markovits and Matt Cohen of Cincinnati Seven Hills, who won the Southwest district title.
"We definitely have our work cut out for us," McDivitt said. "We ended up getting the fourth seed. We made it to state and that means something. We have one of the toughest districts in northeast Ohio. We have good competition here. There was good practice for us at districts and hopefully that will help us (at state)."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Lakeview’s Zach?McDivitt prepares for this weekend’s Division II?state tennis tournament during a workout Tuesday at Youngstown?State University.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Lakeview’s Aaron Paczak makes a return during a workout Tuesday at YSU’s tennis courts.
"We have a pretty decent draw," Paczak added. "If we can get past the first round we should be OK. We're playing the (No.) 1 seed from Cincinnati. I'm really happy with it. I think we can do really well."
Coach Stephanie Hickey said McDivitt and Paczak have reached unprecedented heights
"It's fantastic," she said. "Lakeview has never had a player go to state in the eight years of the program. We have had doubles teams go to districts the last five years. Maybe you could say the fifth time's a charm. It's quite an accomplishment for our program. Our school and community has really supported the tennis program and we really appreciate that."
For McDivitt, a senior, making state was the culmination of four years of hard work. He lost in the first round of districts as a freshman with Alex Dager and fell one match short of state as a sophomore (with his brother Matt) and as a junior (with Paczak).
"Yeah definitely," Zach McDivitt said. "This entire senior year has been going pretty well for me. This is definitely my best tennis season. I think Aaron's having a pretty good season too. Making state is the icing on the cake, too. Hopefully we can make a run at state."
Paczak, a sophomore, agreed that things have been coming together for he and McDivitt.
"It's been going really good," Paczak said. "The regular season wasn't as good being we didn't play as much. The postseason has been really fun. We won the sectional tournament and went to the semifinals of the district tournament."
McDivitt and Paczak won the sectional title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over John F. Kennedy's Tyler Cole and John Nader.
In the district tournament, the Lakeview team won their first two matches to assure themselves a spot at state. Then lost 6-2, 6-3 to Hawken's Siddarth Ahuja and Daniel Lubarsky (the eventual district champions) in the semifinals, then they were defeated by Danny Huang and Lukas Zalesky of University School, 6-2, 7-6 (6), for third place.
Both McDivitt and Paczak named separate wins against Kennedy as their biggest this season.
"I'd say our win against JFK for the sectional championship," McDivitt said. "That was a big win for us. They were a pretty tough matchup. I think we came together as a team in that match."
"The one to get us to state (against Fairview); that was really big," Paczak said. "We beat them pretty easily. We played JFK in the last regular season match and beat them in three sets. We won that one for our team."
Hickey said Markovits and Cohen will be formidable opponents.
"One of them (Cohen) made it to state last year with another partner," she said. "They were seeded (No.) 3 in sectionals but won their district. I'm pretty happy with the draw.
"We need (McDivitt and Paczak) to be in the right position and believe in themselves."