West Chester >> Downingtown East senior Michael Dickson, the defending PIAA Class AAA boys’ tennis state singles champion, wrote another chapter in his stellar high school career when he captured his fourth consecutive Ches-Mont National Division singles title Friday at West Chester Henderson High School.
Dickson, who lost only a single game throughout his four matches at the Ches-Mont National tournament, joins Chris Louis of West Chester Henderson (2001-2004) as the only four-time winners of this event.
In the semifinals Friday afternoon, Dickson defeated West Chester East senior Justin Aksu, 6-1, 6-0; then in the championship finals the Cougar senior defeated talented sophomore Brett Graybill of Downingtown West, 6-0, 6-0.
“The key was maintaining my focus throughout the match,” said Dickson, who remains undefeated this season. “Both of my opponents are solid players. I’d never played Brett before [Dickson defeated Aksu last week, 6-1, 6-0], but I know he [Graybill] has improved a lot over the past year.
“Winning [this tournament] four times is a great accomplishment, and I want to thank my mom and dad and coaches – and I’m glad that I’ve played high school tennis. Some of the [tennis players] I’ve known decided not to play high school tennis, but I’m glad I did, because of the added match experience, and the different types of matches and opponents that you face.”
With the victory in the Ches-Mont National tourney, Dickson advances to the PIAA Class AAA District tournament, where he will be trying to capture his third straight district title.
“It’s such a joy to watch [Dickson] play,” said Downingtown East coach Chris Waychunas after last year’s district tourney. “He’s so dedicated and purposeful in everything he does. He so mature and so fair – at this [high] level of tennis, there’s a lot of gamesmanship, but Michael doesn’t do [gamesmanship] – he’s got a lot of character and he’s a class act. He has a great support system – [particularly] his parents, and his private coaches.”
Dickson, who did not drop a single set during his junior season, will be playing tennis this fall for Butler University, where he will probably major in accounting.
On Thursday, after receiving a first-round bye in the Ches-Mont National Division singles tourney, Dickson defeated Cougar teammate Luc DeCecco, 6-0, 6-0; then returned in the quarterfinals to sweep Peter Sinnott of West Chester Henderson, 6-0, 6-0.
After defeating Aksu, 6-1, 6-0, in the semifinals Friday, Dickson faced Graybill, the tourney’s No. 2 seed. Graybill sported a 13-2 record coming into the championship final, with his only losses coming in three-set matches to West Chester Rustin and Great Valley. In the semifinal, Graybill had defeated Downingtown East senior Jason Listmeier (12-4) by scores of 6-0, 6-1.
“I just played my game [against Listmeier], and both my forehand and backhand were working well,” said Graybill. “But in the finals….Mike doesn’t miss.”
The top three finishers at the Ches-Mont National singles tourney automatically qualify for the PIAA Class AAA District One tourney, so after Dickson defeated Graybill, 6-0, 6-0, in the championship final, all eyes turned to the last match on the court, the third-place match between Listmeier (who will be playing tennis for Kutztown University in the fall) and Aksu, the tourney’s third seed.
Aksu defeated Listmeier, 7-5, 6-3, to become the first West Chester East singles player to qualify for Districts since 2013.
“The key for me was not making unforced errors, keeping a good rhythym,” said Aksu. “My net game was good, and I was able to return the ball well.”
Dickson (DE) def. Aksu (WCE), 6-1, 6-0; Graybill (DW) def. Listmeier (DE), 6-0, 6-1.
Dickson (DE) def. Graybill (DW), 6-0, 6-0.