Jun. 26—LIMA — Three years ago, Mason Stahl won the Lima Area Tennis Association (LATA) juniors singles tournament.
Now, as an incoming senior at Shawnee, Stahl is attempting to notch the men's title of the LATA singles tournament.
On Saturday, the first day of the LATA singles tournament at the University of Northwestern Ohio, Stahl went 2-0 to earn a spot in Sunday's finals.
Stahl will take on former Elida standout, and now University of Northwestern Ohio junior Jacob Ramirez for the men's title, which is slated for 10 a.m. at UNOH.
In his first match Saturday, Stahl defeated Colin Welch 6-1, 7-5. Then in a semifinal match, Stahl outdueled Findlay High School graduate Mac Robertson 6-4, 6-3.
Robertson will be playing tennis, collegiately, at Ohio Northern University next school year.
Stahl said he had to keep Robertson on the move Saturday in order to have a chance to advance to Sunday's finals.
"(I was) moving him back and forth a lot, hitting the ball to the corners and making him move. I just had to grind it out," Stahl said in reference to his win against Robertson.
Stahl competed in singles at the Division II state tennis tournament his sophomore season. This past season, Stahl competed in doubles at the district tournament.
Ramirez defeated Bath's Ezra Bolon in his first match Saturday, 6-1, 6-0.
Then in his semifinal match, Ramirez defeated former Van Wert standout and now Van Wert girls coach Brandon Amstutz, 6-0, 0-6, 6-1.
Ramirez is looking forward to the opportunity to play Stahl for the title.
"It's going to be a fun match," Ramirez said. "We really haven't played each other in an official match before. So, this is going to be the first."
On the women's side, it will be Van Wert senior Grace Lott taking on Lima Central Catholic junior Elizabeth Simmons for the title Sunday.
Lott defeated LCC's Claire Janowski in her semifinal match Saturday, 6-4, 7-6(1). In Lott's first match Saturday, she ousted Jennifer Allgire, 6-0, 6-0.
Lott is no stranger to the LATA tournament.
"I think I've played here since eighth grade. But I had to take last year off due to a knee surgery," Lott said.
Simmons defeated Leslie Stechschulte in the other semifinal Saturday, 6-2, 6-0.
Lott had a battle on her hands in Saturday's semifinal.
"It was very competitive," Lott said in reference to her semifinal match. "Claire (Janowski) gets every ball over (the net). She's very consistent. So, you pretty much have to play it back, and figure out who will make the mistake first. It was a good game. She played a fantastic match."
Simmons said she knows Lott's game really well.
"We (her and Lott) play together all the time," Simmons said. "We're really good friends. I think we'll both play really well (in Sunday's finals). It should be a good match."
There was no senior division for this year's LATA tournament. But that did not deter one area senior tennis player from entering.
Once Mark Czubik retired from coaching boys soccer at Kalida after 32 years, following the 2020 season, he had to find another outlet for his competitive nature.
Last fall, Czubik started to play tennis on a more consistent basis.
On Saturday, the 65-year-old Czubik stepped onto the tennis courts at UNOH as the oldest player in this year's tournament.
Czubik went 2-1 Saturday, and will be vying for the title in the back draw bracket Sunday when he faces Shawnee's Mac Davis.
"I started playing on weekends last November," Czubik said. "I joined Westwood (Tennis and Fitness Center). I have never played in this tournament before. ... I never really gave it any thought. But after playing all winter long, I thought, 'What the heck. ... Let's give it a try.'
"When I saw they (normally) had a senior division, I thought I would give it a try and see where I am at. I thought I would go out for some friendly senior competition. Unfortunately, we didn't end up having a senior division. So, I had to play in the open. I thought, 'What the heck. I'm still a competitor. I like to play.' So, I got out, played, and had some fun."
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.