Bryan’s boys tennis team will have quite the home court advantage when postseason play begins in May.
For the first time, Bryan High School will host an OHSAA tennis tournament as the Division II boys sectionals will take place at the six courts between Golden Bear Stadium and Bryan Middle School.
“I’m super excited and I think it’s great for the community. We have big crowds for our other elite tournaments and stuff where we have multiple teams in,” Bryan boys and girls tennis coach Mitchell Owens said. “We have plenty of room out there, we have a concession stand for these all-day tournaments, restrooms right there.
“So we have all the facilities, which I know was a key thing for the state’s Northwest District Athletic Board review that we had those facilities there. And lots of room to spread out in COVID era, so that’s a good thing too. I think it’s a big deal for Bryan High School and I think this is a big deal for our community.”
The opportunity to host the event opened up during the winter when Defiance College, which hosted the tournament most recently in 2019, said it would not be able to this season. The school announced in a Nov. 17 release that it suspended the men’s and women’s tennis programs for the 2020-21 academic year due to not having enough players to allow for reasonable competition.
That, along with Bryan athletic director Chad Savage reaching out to the OHSAA’s Northwest District Athletic Board shortly after the completion of the six courts, helped Bryan get the chance to host.
The tennis courts and facility on the Bryan City Schools’ campus were completed last summer. Bryan’s girls tennis team played the inaugural match on Oct. 8, 2019, and after the 2020 boys season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the alumni match for the girls program in late July marked the facility’s first match with its new features.
Savage said as soon as the project was finished, he reached out to Lincolnview Local Schools superintendent Jeffrey Snyder, who is also the NWDAB tennis representative.
“I just told him just to keep us in mind down the road to potentially host a sectional event, whether it’d be girls in the fall or boys in the spring,” Savage said. “He liked the idea.”
Snyder, a former principal at Edgerton Local Schools, contacted Savage in February after Defiance College announced it was not able to host. Snyder got a tour of the facility and “pretty much offered us on the spot if we wanted to host,” according to Savage.
“He was really instrumental, very impressed and I think we had some other coaches from other schools that maybe went to bat for us too and saying that we had a great facility,” Savage said. “It was community driven and Mitchell did a fantastic job putting things together for it.”
The Golden Bears will be among 11 schools competing in the tournament, which is scheduled for May 13 and 15. Archbold, Ayersville, Toledo Central Catholic, Defiance, Maumee, Maumee Valley Country Day, Napoleon, Ottawa Hills, Rossford and Wauseon will also be taking part.
Bryan is among four sites hosting Division II sectionals. Port Clinton High School, Shelby High School and University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima will host sectionals in the Northwest District as well.
Owens said having the tournament at home will be beneficial in more ways than one.
“To play on your home courts, you have a comfort level, you know kind of how all the balls bounce and you have the familiar surroundings and it just sets you at ease and enables you to focus on tennis,” Owens said. “The other aspect is just the travel time (not having to go to Defiance or other areas in northwest Ohio).
“... So all of those things I think are going to factor in. It doesn’t help you necessarily win matches, but it puts you in a spot to play your best.”