The 2012 season was definitely one to remember for the Westlake boys tennis team.
And it definitely was a spring Colton Buffington will never forget.
Buffington, the team’s number one singles players, led the Demons to their fourth straight Southwestern Conference team championship. To top that off, he made his fourth trip to the OHSAA state championships in Columbus and came away with the state singles title to close out his high school career.
The University of Louisville recruit defeated Zach Mueck of Lakota East 6-2, 6-3 in the Division I singles championship match to win the championship that had eluded him the previous three seasons.
Buffington had bested Walsh Jesuit’s Aaron Sandberg by the same score in the semifinals. In Muck’s semifinal match, he had his hands full with Perrysburg’s Jeffrey Schorsch in a 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 affair.
In the first round of the state tournament, the Westlake senior scored a 6-4, 6-2 decision over freshman Cameron Raglin of Reynoldsburg in his first match. His first day ended with a convincing 6-0, 6-0 romp over sophomore Peter Smitten of Springboro.
It was a climactic finish for the Westlake netters, who were ranked as high as eighth in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association poll late in the season and advanced all the way to the semifinals of the OTCA Tournament. The Demons dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Copley, finishing the season 11-6 overall against one of the toughest schedules in Northeast Ohio.
But a few weeks earlier, the Demons capped off a perfect 7-0 slate in their SWC matches. That unblemished record helped them fight off a challenge from Avon Lake in the league tournament as the Shoremen tied Westlake with 36 tournament points.
In the tournament, Buffington finished his career unbeaten in the SWC and perfect in sets played as well. He defeated Midpark’s Alex Kalnasy 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals, then took out James Darkow of Avon Lake 6-0, 6-0 to win his fourth straight No. 1 singles crown.
At second singles, Connor Michelich won the title for Westlake with three two-set wins. He beat North Olmsted’s Dervish Chauhan 6-1, 6-1 in the first round, then zipped past Brecksville’s Mark Perisutti 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinal match. Avon Lake’s Greg Miller was tough in the finals, but Michelich prevailed 6-3, 6-4.
Westlake also claimed both SWC doubles championships.
Stephen Fleischer and Kevin Wang opened first doubles play with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Cody Anderson and Zach Mog of Berea 6-1, 6-1. In their semifinal match, North Olmsted’s Shubham Mangla and Ernest Olesky fell to the Demon duo 6-4, 6-0. Fleischer and Wang prevailed over Avon Lake int he final, topping Mike Nock and Jimmy Chase 6-0, 6-2.
At second doubles, Kent Dinchman and Cal Craven faced little resistance on their way to the title.
In their opening match, Dinchman and Craven toppled Willie Karp and Ben Wade of Berea 6-0, 6-2. In the semifinals, they rolled past North Olmsted’s George Botosneau and Tim Donahue 6-1, 6-0. They topped off the tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 decision over Avon Lake.
Aakash Shah settled for a fifth-place finish at third singles for the Demons after dropping his opening match to Avon Lake’s Tim Villari. Shah rallied for wins over Berea’s Victor Mazoyer and Midpark’s Ken Postel.
At the conclusion of the season, Buffington received the SWC MVP Award as well as the Sportsmanship Award. Fleischer received the Scholar Athlete Award, while head coach Jeffery Mannies was named SWC Coach of the Year.
The Westlake MVP Varsity Award went to Fleischer, and the Most Improved Award went to Dinchman. The MVP Junior Varsity Award went to Thomas Reusser, while the junior varsity Most Improved Award was given to Anthony Raiff.