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State tournament doesn#039;t seem to rattle Medcalf

Being in the state tennis tournament means a lot of pressure to the 16 qualifiers.

Make that 15.

One qualifier who doesn't plan on getting caught up in the pressure of playing for a state championship is Ironton Fighting Tigers sophomore Lovell Medcalf.

"I want to win, but I won't be disappointed if I don't," Medcalf said. "I just want to have fun. I still have two more years. I'll try not to press that much."

Medcalf will face Kyle Bower of Norwalk at 9 a.m. Friday in the first round of the state tournament at the Stickney Tennis Center on the campus of Ohio State University.

"The first kid he plays didn't win his district," Ironton coach Jeremy Williams said. "I think only one kid won both sectional and district who made the state tournament, so Lovell's chances are as good as anyone.

"With only 16 players left in the state, anyone can win it. It was that way in the district. It will all depend on who is on top of their game."

Being in the Sweet 16 hadn't hit Medcalf yet, but it's been by choice.

"I try not to think about it. I try to treat it like a regular season match," Medcalf said. "I'll take it one point at a time. I don't want to pressure myself."

This year Medcalf posted a 22-2 record on the season after a 22-1 mark the previous year.

Last season as a freshman, Medcalf's only loss came in the district quarterfinals. Williams said Medcalf is a lot different this season.

"Besides growing five or six inches, he's in a lot better shape. He's done a lot more conditioning. He's stronger, quicker on his feet. His whole game has improved," Williams said.

In the district tournament, Medcalf used a strong serve and a swift backhand to beat Chad Gray of Beaver Local 6-0, 6-1, then used three sets to knock off John Messick of Teays Valley 6-7, 6-3, 6-0.

In the semifinals, Medcalf led in every set but still lost to Ryan Dodd of New Albany 4-6, 1-6.

Medcalf agreed that his conditioning has been the main reason for his success.

"Last year I didn't have the experience and I was not in as good of shape. This year, I've worked harder to make it farther," Medcalf said. "From now on, everyone is equal. If I play my game, I can win."