Seven players assured themselves spots in the championships of their respective brackets with victories in semifinal matches Thursday at Kent Roosevelt High School in Kent.
Some interesting finals pairings were realized when Jim McDonald and Bill Konnert advanced to the title match in the Men's 55 Singles Division to set up a battle of Kent State University faculty members, and Chris Long reached the finals in the Boy's Senior B Division bracket, where he will face Ryan Caplinger in a clash between Kent Roosevelt tennis teammates.
The Men's 55 bracket could have very appropriately been called, "the Kent State faculty division."
McDonald, a former men's basketball coach at Kent State, reached the Men's 55 championship with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Kent State art professor Frank Susi.
Konnert, an education professor at Kent State, advanced to face McDonald in the finals when Ravenna resident Jim Shimko withdrew from the tournament.
Another Kent State professor, Rich Ambrose, who teaches in the school's education department, moved on to the finals of the Men's 35 Singles Division by defeating Kent resident Dan Terrell in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.
Ambrose will face Kent's Jim Pukys, a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Ed Bzomowski, at 1 p.m. Saturday.
In the Senior B Division, Long reached the finals with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Grant Harris.
The championship participants in the Girl's Combined Junior/Novice Division were determined when Kent's Erin Macke defeated Ravenna's Jennifer Farquhar, 7-5, 6-3, and Kent's Sara Durkalski defeated Ravenna's Amy Masowick, 6-0, 6-0.
Macke and Durkalski will face off Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Thursday was not just a day to decide championship pairings.
In one of the most well played contests of the tournament, Rootstown's Bob Smith and Diamond's Doug Wirt advanced to the semifinals of the Combined Men's B/Recreational Doubles Division with a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Kent's John Kluth and Ravenna's Werner Kochte.
Smith and Wirt won the first set in a 7-2 tiebreaker.
"It was close all the way," said Smith, who is teaming with Wirt for the first time this week. "I think the difference in the match was Doug's pace. He hits the ball very hard and I don't think they were used to that kind of pace."
It doesn't get any easier for Smith and Wirt in the semifinals where they will face Mike Fenstermacher and Paul Fabry, who at 17- and 19-years-old, respectively, are both less than half the age of their opponents.
"They are so young, they can probably run down anything we hit," said Smith. "We'll probably have to cut down on their mobility and try to exploit any inconsistencies they might have."
In the conclusions of Wednesday's rain-suspended matches, Kent Roosevelt's Vachana Hegde and Field's Jenny Hoffman advanced to the semifinals of the Combined A/B Girls Singles Division.
Hegde's conservative approach helped her to outlast hard-hitting fellow Rough Rider Kathy Gagola in one of the tournament's rare three-set matches, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Hoffman defeated Kent Roosevelt's Nora Noble in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
The winner of the semifinal match will face Ravenna first-singles player Gina Iarussi in the championship.
In the only first-round matchup of the day, Brimfield's Ed Whitehouse and Kent's Ann Bolek held off Ravenna residents Rhonda Mitchell and Bob Adams in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Record-Courier Portage County Open Tennis Tournament
(At Kent Roosevelt High School)
Girls Combined Junior/Novice Singles
Erin Macke def. Jennifer Farquhar, 7-5, 6-3.
Sara Durkalski def. Amy Masowick, 6-0, 6-0.
Girls Combined A/B Singles
Vachana Hegde def. Kathy Gagola, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Jenny Hoffman def. Nora Noble, 6-4, 6-2.
Boys Senior B Singles
Chris Long def. Grant Harris, 6-1, 6-0.
Men's 55 Singles
Bill Konnert def. Jim Shimko, withdraw.
Jim McDonald def. Frank Susi, 6-3, 6-2.
Men's 35 Singles
Rich Ambrose def. Dan Terrell, 6-2, 6-3.
Jim Pukys def. Ed Bzomowski, 6-0, 6-0.
Men's Combined B/Recreational Doubles
Bob Smith/Doug Wirt def. John Kluth/Werner Kochte, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
Ed Whitehouse/Ann Bolek def. Bob Adams/Rhonda Mitchell, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.