MONROE—Monday was Nathan Barger's time to shine.
Last season, the AC senior faced off against a Leo foreign exchange student who bested him in the regular season and in the ACAC tournament forcing Barger to settle for second place in the conference and ultimately the Jets lost their regular season title in a 3-2 decision.
Enter Valentin VomLehn, a German exchange student who became Leo's new number one singles player this year and a new challenge for Adams Central. Barger defeated the senior about a month earlier in a three-set masterpiece of a contest that ended with the Jet on top 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6) in dramatic tie-breaker fashion giving AC the victory over Leo 3-2 and the ACAC regular season crown.
Barger duplicated the feat once again on Monday with a three-set victory over VomLehn 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to earn the top spot on the ACAC first team, his fourth appearance on the team in his storied career as a Jet. Barger's win also improves him to 17-2 on the season and 69-14 in his career, the most wins by any Jet all-time, a record held previously by his brother Brandon, but since dismantled by Nathan before this season even began.
"To beat Valentin once before this season only to do it again was huge," praised coach Mike Hower of AC. "It was great going into the sectional to have such a big match."
Barger took the first set easily as VomLehn made several mistakes having to adjust to the windy conditions. After some corrections, the Lion came roaring back in the second set, sparking a deja vu feeling in Jet fans' chests as the match seemed to be playing out like the pair's first meeting.
VomLehn eventually won the second set to knot the match up at one set apiece.
After a brief break, it was Barger who came out strong to start the final set taking the early 1-0 lead with a strong service game. VomLehn would recover, however and take four of the next five games to take a big 4-2 lead.
Finding himself down big in the final set, once again, Barger pumped himself up mentally and blasted the next four games himself to breaking VomLehn twice in the process to win the title.
Barger was not the only member of the Jets to make all-ACAC first team as on Saturday, Isaac Luginbill and Conner Lengerich dominated the doubles field to take the title in a 6-4, 6-3 win over Bluffton's number one team.
"Conner and Isaac really have been playing amazing," noted Hower. "Since last week when they took state-ranked Carroll's team to three sets they have been playing great."
AC netted two more positions on the ACAC second team as Pierce Harris and Ben Kaehr earned third place in the doubles competition on Saturday. Last night, Jacob Weil won his fifth place match against Bluffton's Brenden Baumgarter in an exciting match settled in a super tie-break 6-2, 6-7, (11-9).