Boys tennis: Bath's Bolons head to state
May 23—The Bolon tradition continues.
After seeing their sisters, Esther and Ruby, qualify for state three years in a row from 2019-21, Ezra and Daniel Bolon punched their ticket to Columbus after finishing third at the Division II state districts.
The Bath duo will be facing the Cincinnati Indian Hill pair of Max Berghausen and Michael Ryu, who were state qualifiers last year. Action begins Thursday at Ohio State University's Ty Tucket Tennis Center. This year's state tournament was moved to Columbus this year due to renovations at the Linder Center in Mason.
"Our sisters really helped us for doubles and stuff and we play against them a lot, and they helped us out a lot to get where we are today," Ezra Bolon said.
Daniel Bolon admits there was some pressure to make it to state after the sisters set the standard.
"Our sisters made it, and we have been playing about as long as them so that has been our biggest goal throughout all these years and that was to make it to state," Daniel Bolon said. "We accomplished that this year and we are really proud of it.
Unlike their sisters and despite being brothers, it took two years for the duo to achieve the play and chemistry it took to earn a berth at state. Throughout the regular season the two played singles competition and both went 8-3 this year.
Since their freshman season, the juniors paired up in the postseason and in the past two years the Bolon's journey ended at district.
But this year everything fell into place for the pair on the court.
"I think we have gotten better," Ezra Bolon said. "We put in a lot of work."
Many might believe because they are siblings that their chemistry is built in but anyone who has played with a brother and sister understand that it is a double-edged sword of past emotions and patience.
Bath head coach Caden Schmidt has tracked the duo's development since their freshman year and has seen them grow on and off the court and added that he felt this was the year for them to make it to state.
The main reason was their play. Other factors working in the Bolons' favor was the Lexington pair that had eliminated them from the postseason the last two years had graduated and several schools such as Shawnee were moved up to Division I.
"Those (Lexington) boys graduated so going into this season I said we can go grab a high side and that Lexington team is gone and Shawnee they moved up to Division I. Hey, we got a good chance for state this year."
While the optimism was there as the tournament began, Schmidt said the regular season did not work out the way he wanted due to limited play because of the weather and other factors.
"We only had 11 matches and typically we get like 15 to 16. They both went 8-3 and dropped some tough matches that they probably could have gotten back. We had expectations going into the season of what the season would look like for them and we knew that we could try to push them to that semifinals and they did it this year.
"They had a really tough sectional finals match with Ben Osman and Jaden Neuman (of Elida) and they ended up getting that first seed at sectionals which gave them a clear path to districts to get into the semifinals where they got the third seed so I think this year was getting them more experience playing together at doubles They have gotten better every year and it's about time they punched their ticket to state."
Daniel Bolon said, "We have worked together a lot better on the court. Our patience has gotten a lot better. It is definitely easier to communicate because we are brothers and we've known each other our whole lives and I like it because you don't have to bond with a different player to know how they play, and we communicate really well."
The two agreed that they have similar styles in terms of play and is one of the reasons the pair reached state this year.
Daniel Bolon said, "He (Ezra) is very consistent and knows when to hit power shots and knows when to get the ball on the court."
Ezra echoed his brother's sentiment, "We are very similar players and so we do a lot of the same things. He (Daniel) is strong and has a really good forehand. His serves are really strong which really helps us proceed in matches."
Schmidt said keeping each other calm and poised was a big part of the brothers getting over the hump.
"This year they have done a really good job of keeping each other calm in high stress situations, and they have just gotten better this year so, it was only a matter of time before they began working together to get them to state. Daniel does a fantastic job near the back and Ezra can put away some shots up front so their play really complements each other."
Having been at state to support their sisters, the two juniors are aware of the atmosphere and the talent they can expect at state and are hoping to make their mark.
"We are hoping to win a couple of matches," Daniel Bolon said. "There is a lot higher competition, and we are going to see what is there, and we have not seen this type of player. It will be a lot harder competition, and we are excited about making it."
Ezra Bolon added, "Last year we were one match from making it to state, and we really wanted it this year."
Like the Bolons, Schmidt knows how tough it is at state and he said they are excited to be at state and try to accomplish what they can.
"We are really excited to go to Columbus," Schmidt said. "We are bummed it is not in Mason. Hopefully, next we can punch our ticket to Mason. But we are just happy to be here and enjoying the moment. We got a third seed so my expectation is to try and beat your seed and try to get some matches and try to beat your placement."
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.