Jackson tennis sends two doubles teams to state

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Jackson's Alvin Altman (left) and Ryan Kelley compiete in Division I Doubles Sectional final.   Saturday, May 15, 2021

JACKSON TWP. – To the casual sports fan, the distinction between singles tennis and doubles tennis may seem minimal.

Jackson sophomore Alvin Altman knows well – courtesy of his dive into the tennis deep end this season – just how much of a difference there is between the two. His upcoming trip to the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason for the Division I boys state tennis tournament is proof that he and doubles partner Ryan Kelley have not only embraced the two-man game, but also underscores how well they’ve done so in a limited number of matches together.

Altman and Kelley qualified for the state tournament by playing second at the Northeast District tournament, improving their record to 10 wins in just 12 matches together.

“For me, it's always been singles,” Altman said. “It’s so much different because with singles, I’m always playing on the baseline, but with doubles, you’re playing at the net half of the time.”

Altman and Kelley are one of two Jackson doubles teams headed to the state tournament. They’ll be joined on the trip south by the duo of junior Lucas Immel and senior Arjun Krishnamurthi, who placed sixth at the district tournament.

Jackson's Lucas Immel and Arjun Krishnamurthi (right) compete in Division I Doubles Sectional final.   Saturday, May 15, 2021

It was, to say the least, an exciting day for those wearing purple and gold when the Polar Bears became one of a small number of teams to qualify two teams for the state tournament.

“That was awesome … we went home Thursday knowing me and my partner had qualified, but it was 10 times better hearing that we had another team qualify,” Altman said. “The goal is always to win and just get down there and see what happens.”

This is Altman’s first trip to the state tournament after his freshman season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also his first real chance to compete as a doubles player. In doubles tennis, partners have to divide up the court and be able to move in sync, knowing when the other can get to a ball and make a shot and when you take charge and play the ball themselves.

“The biggest thing is just knowing what the other one is doing and we’ve put in a lot of hard work on that at practice,” Altman said.

In amassing a 10-2 record together, Altman and Kelley have lost to just one team; the Walsh Jesuit duo of Ben Cors and Caleb Miller. Cors and Miller are in the opposite side of the bracket in Mason, but there is the possibility of a third matchup between the two teams.

Regardless of the result, Altman is excited to be participating in his first state tournament. He also plays basketball and admitted that with his freshman tennis campaign canceled and time spent playing basketball, he didn’t play as much tennis as he hoped to play leading up to the current season.

Knowing that he will have two more years of varsity tennis and therefore two more chances to reach the state tournament and chase a state title adds excitement to the mix and with Kelley being a junior, there is the possibility that the duo could make a return trip to Columbus next spring.

Of course, simply being on the court and playing a full season as the pandemic wanes has been a win on its own, but make no mistake about it: Altman, Kelley, Immel and Krishnamurthi would all like nothing more than to add a few additional wins to their respective doubles records before the campaign comes to a close.