Orange’s Ben Pomeranets won his second straight district title on Saturday by sweeping the Division II singles tournament.
Pomeranets went 4-0 in the tournament with a win over defending state champion Andrew Zimcosky of Chagrin Falls in the semifinals. He defeated teammate Chika Nwaozuzu in the district championship match.
“Winning my second district title was super exciting for sure,” Pomeranets said. “I was really happy with how I competed and it gave me a lot of confidence heading into the state tournament. Obviously, the season’s not over yet and I need to stay focused and continue to support my teammates. Despite the success I had at districts this weekend, every match is different and anything could happen in Cincinnati next weekend.”
Pomeranets won his first two matches 6-0, 6-0, then faced Zimcosky in the semifinals of the 2021 OHSAA Division II state championship match. Zimcosky won that match, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, to win his second state title.
“It was definitely unfortunate that Andrew and I had to play each other in the semifinals because it meant that one of us would have to get knocked out before the finals,” Pomeranets said. “We’ve been training with each other for years and have built a lot of respect for one another. Last year, the state final was our seventh match-up of the season, but this year most of our matches have gotten rained out and we’ve only faced each other twice so far. We both know each other’s games so well at this point that it’s much more of a mental battle than a physical one.”
Zimcosky took advantage of several Pomeranets mistakes to jump out to an early lead. Pomeranets stayed the course and worked his way back into the match and eventually pulled out a 7-5, 6-1 victory.
“I got off to a very slow start, making unforced errors left and right, going down 3-0 right away,” Pomeranets said. “From there, I just told myself to stay solid from the baseline and play high-percentage tennis. Eventually, I found my rhythm and was grooving for the rest of the match.”
After the win, Pomeranets remained focused on defending his district title.
He closed out the tournament with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Nwaozuzu.
“Even before the match, I knew it would be really important to stay level-headed afterward,” Pomeranets said. “Win or lose, I would have another match that day and couldn’t let myself get too high or too low. I had to keep telling myself to stay in the moment and focus on the things that I could control. Against Chika, I felt really locked in and was able to play my A-game.”
Defeating Zimcosky in the semifinals allowed Pomeranets to defend his district title and he’ll carry some added momentum into next weekend’s state tournament.
“Whether or not Andrew is the defending state champ doesn’t change much about my win this weekend,” he said. “Like I said before, Andrew and I have a lot of respect for each other and we both know what we can do. It’s always a battle against him and coming out on top is never easy, no matter the circumstances. I’m very pleased with my win and hope to carry my level to next weekend where I’m likely to play Andrew one last time.”
It’s ever easy to advance to a state championship match, and doing it in back-to-back years is even harder.
While Pomeranets is aware of the potential for a rematch with Zimcosky, he also understands he’ll face plenty of adversity along the way and he plans to be ready for anything.
“It will take a lot of preparation to get ready for all the new circumstances I’ll have to face at states,” he said. “Big crowds, stronger competition, intimidating atmosphere, there’s no feeling like playing in the state tournament, especially with a target on my back and my team name on my shirt. I think the best way for me to approach this tournament is to take it one match at a time and treat it like any other USTA tournament that I’ve become so accustomed to. There’s nothing I want more than to stand on top of the podium this weekend, but it will certainly not be easy. I’ve got to remember that I’m playing for something bigger than myself and trying to make history for Orange.”
Zimcosky defeated Orange’s Gabe Guiler in the third-place match, 6-1, 6-0. The top four players advanced to the state tournament.
The Lions also took home the district titles in doubles play.
Jake Goldstein and Gabi Kalir defeated Hawken’s Berend Diderich and Praveen Kumar in the championship match, 6-1, 6-1.
Hawken’s Zach Forte and Axel Neely topped Orange’s Ace Bloom and Kirsh Mehra for third place, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.