By Jim Cox
Times Bulletin Correspondent
VAN WERT — The Shawnee boys tennis team has won six straight Western Buckeye League championships, and it looks like a seventh is on the horizon. The Indians blanked Van Wert 5-0 Thursday at the Van Wert County Foundation Tennis Center, winning all five matches in straight sets. Shawnee is 4-0 in the WBL and 5-2 overall. Van Wert is 3-1 and 3-1.
At first singles, Shawnee senior Jason Barton topped Cougar sophomore Lane Mansfield 6-1, 6-1. The ball striking in that match was at a different level from the other four contests. Barton is undoubtedly the hardest hitter in the WBL. Mansfield is also a solid hitter, but Barton, the defending WBL runner-up at first singles, was more consistent in this one. Mansfield is now 3-1 on the season.
The second match to end was at first doubles where the Indian team of senior Carter Jones and junior Tim Rutter over-powered Van Wert senior Eli Alvarez and sophomore Nick Etter 6-2, 6-2. The team of Alvarez/Etter is now 2-2.
At second doubles, Shawnee seniors Chris Mart and Troy Brinkman squeaked by junior Kory Schlatter and freshman Gabe Rollins 7-5 in the first set, then rolled to a 6-1 win in the second. Schatter and Rollins are now 2-2.

It was a long match at second singles, with Cougar junior Eric Yeung losing to Shawnee senior Avinash Rajasekaran 6-4, 6-1. Rajasekaran, the defending WBL runner-up at second singles, is an incredibly consistent retriever who eventually wears down his opponents. In the first set, Yeung led 2-0 and was later tied at 4-4 before Rajasekaran took charge. Yeung’s record is now 3-1.
The last match to finish was a dandy at third singles, with Shawnee junior Ruthvik Avvari, the defending WBL champ at third singles, topping the Cougars’ scrambling left-handed sophomore Brandon Amsutz 7-6 (7-2), 6-4. It was a winnable match for Amstutz, as he extended the steady Avvari to a tie-breaker in the first set and led 4-2 in the second before Avvari reeled off four games in a row to end it. Amstutz’s record is now 3-1.
Van Wert coach Mitch Price has been impressed with the improvement made by Amstutz in the last year. “He has come a long way,” said Price. “He’s quick, so he can get to the ball. When he gets a little more experience playing guys like this, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.”
Despite the loss, Price considers his team to be a major factor, along with Shawnee and Celina, in the WBL. “We’re getting there,” said Price. “That’s probably the best we’ve played Shawnee in three years. Our problem is we’ve gotta believe we can play with anybody. We have a lot of room to grow, a lot of potential.”
The Shawnee lineup includes five seniors. Celina’s varsity seven is made up entirely of seniors. Thus, Van Wert, with only one senior (Alvarez) among its top seven, appears to be positioned for a bright future.
First singles: Jason Barton (Shawnee) over Lane Mansfield 6-1, 6-1.
Second singles: Avinash Rajasekaran (Shawnee) over Eric Yeung 6-4, 6-1.
Third singles: Ruthvik Avvari (Shawnee) over Brandon Amstutz 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
First doubles: Carter Jones/Tim Rutter (Shawnee) over Eli Alvarez/Nick Etter 6-2, 6-2.
Second doubles: Chris Mart/Troy Brinkman (Shawnee) over Kory Schlatter/Gabe Rollins 7-5, 6-1.